Church finance manager was assured of transparency and accountability of CHC management when it came to audit matters, and soundness of transactions drafted by lawyers.
City Harvest finance director Sharon Tan’s involvement in bond transactions, the acquisition of the Riverwalk property and interaction with auditors appeared to be minimal, the court saw this morning.
In his examination-in-chief, senior counsel Kannan Ramesh took his client, Sharon Tan, through a series of emails that underscored her role as mostly an administrative one.
When Tan took over Serina Wee’s role as finance manager of City Harvest Church in Jan 2008, she became aware that the senior leadership had wanted to keep all transactions between the church and Xtron at arm’s length.
When it came to the acquisition of Riverwalk through Xtron, Tan told the court that she was confident that it was a financially sound transaction which the church board had approved. Adding to her assurance was the fact that lawyer Christina Ng from Drew & Napier handled the sale and purchase of Riverwalk for Xtron.
In one of the emails, Tan consulted Wee as to how much CHC should pay Xtron in terms of rental of Riverwalk. Ramesh asked Tan as to why was the church’s finance manager asking the Xtron accountant about the rental amount. Tan explained that the rental amount had to be decided by Xtron, not CHC. In another email, detailing interactions between the auditors and Wee regarding the consolidation and risk of Xtron bonds in the church’s audit report, Ramesh asked Tan why the auditors were dealing with Wee instead of Tan.
Tan explained that when the first bond subscription agreement with Xtron was entered into, Wee was the church’s finance manager and she was familiar with the structure of the BSA, hence she helped CHC to handle this matter.
Ramesh brought out an email between Tan and Wee dated Jul 16, 2008 in which Wee told Tan it was good for the auditors to ask a lot of questions as it aided their understanding. Tan confirmed that this gave her assurance that the auditors were detailed in looking through the Xtron bonds, and that the CHC management and Wee were accountable and transparent to the auditors.
In a spreadsheet detailing concerns and issues raised by the auditors to be addressed by CHC’s management, the court saw that the auditors had taken note of the fact that the bonds proceeds were used to fund Sun Ho’s albums. Tan was assured that the auditors were well aware of related party transactions. The spreadsheet was an attachment to an email that was sent by audit manager Foong Ai Fang to Wee and Tan, and copied to audit partner Tiang Yii and managing partner, Foong Daw Ching.
The court also saw that a meeting with Foong Daw Ching took place after that email. This further affirmed Tan’s state of mind that the accused had been very transparent and accountable to the auditors.
Tan’s role in the Crossover concerned drawdowns of the bonds where she executed payments which were signed by others.
Court resumed at 2.30pm.
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