Defense lawyer Edwin Tong establishes the consistency of his client’s testimony, as evidenced by a 2010 confession letter Kong Hee had written.
This afternoon saw Kong Hee ending his time on the witness stand after 19 days, but not before addressing allegations about a confession letter he had written.
The letter had been produced by Kong’s defense lawyer Edwin Tong this morning, to show that his client’s evidence even back when investigations had just started in May 2010 was consistent with what he had told the court over the past few weeks–that he acted according to professional advice rendered by the church’s lawyers and auditors.
Kong had penned the letter in the presence of the church’s former lawyers at the Drew & Napier office on Jun 3, 2010–just three days after he was arrested and taken in by the Commercial Affairs Department for questioning.
The court heard that Kong had written the letter in an effort to “come clean” as advised by the church’s lawyer at the time, Jimmy Yim.
Along with co-accused Chew Eng Han, the prosecution took aim at the authenticity of the letter.
Pointing to various instances where certain information was not included in the document, deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong charged that the letter was merely a “further development of the story” that was to be fed to the authorities and “not a true coming clean” effort.
The DPP pointed out that there was no mention of the reliance on Foong Daw Ching’s advice anywhere in the letter. He put to Kong that the “attribution of blame” to Foong during his testimony was an afterthought the witness came up with.
In the course of this trial, the court had heard about the critical role Foong played in advising the accused about the legalities and legitimacies of the church’s financial transactions.
Kong replied that he did not specifically name him in the letter at that time because he “loved” him and thought it would suffice to just say that the had relied on professional advice from lawyers and auditors.
The DPP also asked why that letter was never given to the authorities, if it was in the effort to “come clean” to them.
Kong explained that a day after he wrote the letter, he had been called in for further questioning by the authorities; much of the content in the letter would therefore have been conveyed during the interrogations, he said.
Additionally, he had left it to Yim and later on, his lawyers at Allen & Gledhill, to decide what to do with the letter.
In addition, Ong asked why his role as the visionary of the Crossover Project was not mentioned in the letter.
Kong stated that those points were not “topmost” on his mind; in fact, he had thought that it would be apparent from his role as senior pastor of City Harvest Church.
If he had known that he was going to be questioned on everything, he would have put in even more information, but he had half a day to write it before he was called for questioning again, he added.
As far as Kong was concerned, he just wanted to write down everything that was of significance to the best of his understanding, with the intention of taking responsibility for what had happened.
Chew had earlier accused Kong of not taking full responsibility for the situation, but from Kong’s repeated testimony, he had the intention to shoulder the blame – a point the judge echoed at one point.
Senior counsel for Serina Wee, Andre Maniam, following Chew’s re-cross examination, also showed, from Chew’s own statement to the CAD that it was Chew himself, not Kong, who was responsible for drafting the bond agreements with lawyer Christina Ng.
To the prosecutor’s accusation that Kong left out information about the Xtron bonds in his confession letter, Tong showed the court that at the time of drafting the letter, Kong had only given one interview to the CAD. The court heard that one day after the letter was written, Kong went for another interview during which he told the CAD that the purpose of the Xtron bonds was to distance the church from the Crossover funding.
Further, Tong reminded the court that at the point the confession letter was written, investigations had just started; his client, along with the other accused, would not have known what they would be charged with.
As such, Kong could not have known, exhaustively, the pieces of information to include that were pertinent to the allegations in the charges, which only came two years later.
The judge also put forth several questions to Kong, among which was the clarification of Wahju Hanafi’s role in his sponsorship and underwriting of the Crossover Project.
Kong replied that from as early on as 2002, Hanafi had given a general pledge that he would sponsor whatever expenses the Crossover Project needed. It was only when the decision was made to enter the US market that considerably more funds were needed, and thus the church turned to bonds and Hanafi’s role switched from sponsor to underwriter.
Court resumes at 9:30am tomorrow, with Sharon Tan taking the stand.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：康希证词自始至终持续一致