The re-examination of Kong Hee ended today with defense lawyer Edwin Tong underscoring that Kong’s state of mind in 2010 when investigations began was consistent with his testimony on the stand.
This morning in court, Edwin Tong, Kong Hee’s lawyer, submitted a 12-paged letter that Kong had written at the advice of City Harvest Church’s former lawyer Jimmy Yim to “come clean”. The letter was dated June 3, 2010, three days after Kong had first been brought in for a 15-hour interview by the Commercial Affairs Department, the court heard.
In his statements given to the CAD, Kong said that Yim told him he had been negligent, had done wrong and that he should “just come clean and tell the truth”.
Co-defendant Chew Eng Han had asked for this letter in the course of his cross-examination of Kong earlier in the trial.
The court heard this morning that this letter outlined the reason Sun Ho became a pop singer, the Crossover Project in Asia and the US, the multipurpose fund, the Xtron and Firna bonds, the purchasing of a unit in Riverwalk, and the advance rental agreement, among other things.
Reading the letter, Tong established that Kong’s position at that point in time in June 2010 was consistent with what he has told the court in the past weeks he has been on the stand. This letter was handed by Kong to Yim to give to any relevant agency but Kong’s belief is that never happened. (See box story on Kong’s “pleas”)
Earlier this morning, Tong tackled several accusations put forward by the prosecution in the cross-examination.
The prosecution had accused Kong of making decisions that were “essentially motivated by the aim of solving Xtron’s financial deficit” without “real assessment of commercial motive”. One example given was Kong’s approval to transfer expenses to various organisations, including Anglican High School and a primary school in China.
Tong produced CHC board meeting minutes to show that these donations, which Kong said were in line with CHC’s mission, had been approved by the board. He also produced Baker Tilly’s working papers which showed that the auditors knew about these donations. Among the documents in the audit working paper was a record of Xtron board meeting minutes that showed that the donations made by Xtron came out of an agreement between Sun Ho and Xtron. Ho had waived her royalties and the amount was donated to build schools in China.
The prosecution had also charged that Kong had control over Xtron such that he could capitalize Xtron in whatever ways he wanted. They also charged that Kong had planned the US album budget without consideration of the repayment of the Xtron bonds.
Tong established that Kong had no experience in the US music industry prior to 2003 and had had to rely heavily on the US manager Justin Herz, and the producers, public relations manager and lawyer in US for his budget planning. Kong agreed that he would not disagree with the professionals if they projected certain costs for the album. Kong clarified that he would check and ensure that the figures were reasonable.
Tong then questioned Kong on the period of time when Xtron had difficulty repaying the bonds. At that time, Kong was in negotiations with producer Wyclef Jean that eventually broke down. Tong then asked his client why, if according to prosecution, the budget was insufficient he could simply capitalize Xtron in whatever way he wished, did he fight so hard with Jean and Herz over the proposed budget?
Kong replied that although the prospect of working with Jean and Lisa Ellis was very tempting, because Jean had made Shakira a star at that time, he felt that the budget was unbalanced and beyond reasonableness. When Jean and Ellis refused to push down the budget, Kong decided to terminate the contract.
He later adds, “If it’s a choice between artistic, budgetary and Crossover mission consideration, Your Honour, I just cannot, in good conscience, put Xtron and ultimately the church in a position where, specially the church, it could suffer loss.”
Court resumed at 2.30pm.
Kong’s 2010 Pleas
On June 3, 2010, Kong Hee wrote a 12-page letter to “come clean” about his “negligence”. He ended it with these four pleas.
• The fallout from my negligence and mistakes is tragic enough for my family. I wonder everyday how this situation will affect my little boy and his future. The impact on the 32,000-plus members will be painfully great as well. With the recent purchase of shares in Suntec Convention, there is now serious doubt in CHC’s ability to fulfill its commitment in the deal. And with their senior pastor’s reputation in question, I’m worried how many members will feel lost and disappointment not just in me, but in Christianity and God as well.
• Outside of my church, the impact of this on Christianity and the charity sector in Singapore would be unfathomable. I worry that the integrity of all pastors and megachurches will be viewed with great suspicion hereafter. The charity sector, which has already suffered the bad publicities of the NKF and Renci debacles, will take yet another hit because of my ignorance and negligence.
• I am willing to shoulder the blame of my failure as the senior pastor of service to my church, our society and to lives in need locally as well as internationally. But more than that, I pray that the authorities will help CHC, Singapore Christianity, and the local charity sector navigate through this very unfortunate and damning situation that I have caused.
• Finally, I plead for leniency even as I recognize my failures and mistakes throughout this entire situation. I see now how wrong many of the decisions I was a part of are now after reviewing them with my lawyers from Drew and Napier. However in all honesty, I truly did not make any of these decisions with the intention of personal gain. I hope that you will believe my testimony above and give me a chance to make amends to become a better person and Christian minister.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：康希“自白书”内容公开