The prosecution sought to show that Wahju Hanafi’s personal guarantee “did not exist”. Kong Hee reiterated that Hanafi had in fact made good on his promise and the church had suffered no loss.
In the last lap of deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong’s cross-examination of City Harvest Church’s senior pastor Kong Hee, the DPP sought to prove that the plan for filling the “hole” did not involve Wahju Hanafi. Ong called the personal guarantee a conduit for the Indonesian businessman to be the appointed person to return the church’s Building Fund money that been invested into bonds, with the proceeds going toward the Crossover Project.
Ong based his case on the fact that the personal guarantee was signed in 2010, but had been backdated to Aug 2007 before the first drawdown of the Xtron bonds. The court saw that, in Chew Eng Han’s statement to the Commercial Affairs Department that Chew had mooted the idea of a personal guarantee from Hanafi because Kong had felt that it was important for Xtron to pay back the funds that were due to the church.
Kong told the court that Hanafi had given a verbal pledge to cover all the expenses of the Crossover in 2002 and the personal guarantee was formalized in 2010 to hold Hanafi to his commitment. Kong maintained that when he signed a “back-to-back” guarantee (along with Chew, Tan Ye Peng and Koh Siow Ngea) to support Hanafi, the four individuals did so to show their support and encouragement for his commitment, and that they were prepared to support him financially as well.
Kong conceded that on hindsight, the personal guarantee and “back-to-back” guarantees should not have been backdated. Instead, they should have been dated 2010, with effect from Aug 2007, or even 2002.
DPP Ong brought up another email between Serina Wee, Kong and Choong Kar Weng, the former director of Xtron. This email showed a discussion to invest church funds into Chew’s fund management company AMAC at a fixed rate. Chew would then invest the funds at a higher rate of returns. After CHC had got the investments back with the fixed rate of returns, AMAC would then use the remaining profits to repay Xtron’s obligation to the church.
Kong explained this email was simply a scenario being considered, and that it was eventually not carried out as Choong was not comfortable with this plan. If they had gone ahead with the plan, Kong said that lawyers and auditors would have been consulted to ensure that the whole process was above board.
In a May 5, 2010 email, Sun Ho asked Kong, her husband, whether the members of the church would “jump” if they found out that 50 per cent of the church’s funds were being invested into Chew’s company. Kong gave the court the context of the email, explaining that the email proved that they were prepared to give full disclosure to the members if it became necessary.
In a Blackberry message from Kong to Choong, he suggested that Choong and Hanafi, as investors of the Crossover Project, meet up with a group of people, including lawyer Jimmy Yim and auditor Foong Daw Ching, after the “hole” has been filled. Kong explained that while Hanafi had been the investor since 2003, he had never met with the lawyer and auditor—the meeting was for Yim and Foong to put a face to the name they already knew.
The DPP alleged that Kong’s intention for suggesting the meet up was to make the story that Choong and Hanafi were investors seem more convincing. Kong disagreed: if it was indeed a sham, he pointed out, he would not have wanted to reveal that Choong and Hanafi were investors.
Kong had said during his examination-in-chief that because of the investigation, Ho’s US album was never launched and the money spent on the album “went down the drain”. The DPP alleged that because of the church getting Suntec for a worship premise and the costs involved, Firna would not be able to draw down any more funds to produce the album. This would mean that even if the CAD investigations did not happen, the album would not have been launched.
Kong disagreed. He told the court that the album had already been completed and scheduled for launch on Aug 17, 2010, and the only funds needed were $3m to $5m for marketing the album. Ho was still on track for the launch when investigation started.
Producing the transcript of a special meeting with executive members held on Mar 28, 2010 to address the allegations against Xtron, Ong asked Kong why did he not tell the executive members about the $13m Xtron bonds.
Kong replied that he was not trying to hide anything from the members but he knew that things told to the members would go out to the public in a very short time and the church would face criticism on social media. He explained that the church was going through a very difficult time then because of the negative online response after the Suntec deal was announced, he wanted to protect the Crossover Project and the church.
Ong submitted a new email that Tan Ye Peng sent to Kong on May 24, 2010. Attached to the email was a document, which Kong explained to be a write-up of Xtron’s history for Hanafi and another Indonesian businessman Roy Tirtadji.
Ong said that the write-up gave the impression that Hanafi had paid for $18m incurred for the album in 2008, and $30m incurred in 2009. Kong explained that the purpose of the document was to let Hanafi understand the liability he had to bear for the personal guarantee he signed.
Court resumed at 2.30pm.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：个人担保之真实性遭质疑