Senior counsel Kannan Ramesh ended his examination-in-chief by addressing his client’s charges.
In the emotional end to Sharon Tan’s examination-in-chief, she emphasized that while there were many things she could have done better, there was never any intention to cause loss to the church. Everything she had done was to further the Crossover Project and the search for a building for the church.
The court saw this morning that Sharon Tan had worked in church for more than 10 years. She had met her husband in church and their children have grown up in church.
Was coming to CHC and getting to know God a significant event, her lawyer asked.
“Very much,” the finance manager replied. “This is my first and only church.”
She told the court: “All these years of working in church, I never had any intention to cause any loss to church,” pointing out that working in the church was a “privilege”.
In answer to her lawyer’s questioning, Sharon Tan also maintained that she had been consistent with her testimony and statements to the CAD because she only has one story to tell.
Sharon Tan is charged with conspiring to falsify a series of transactions with the intention to defraud the auditors. These transactions, which the prosecution call “sham”, include AMAC’s special opportunity fund (SOF), the offset of restated Xtron bonds through the Advance Rental Licensing Agreement and the payment of $46m advance rental through the said agreement with Xtron.
This morning these charges were revisited by senior counsel Kannan Ramesh, Sharon Tan’s defense lawyer, as he rounded up his examination-in-chief which began last Friday afternoon. In response to the charges, Sharon Tan maintained that there was no conspiracy because all the transactions were genuine.
She reiterated that the investment into the SOF had been approved by the church board and the auditors were aware that it was being used to redeem the Firna bonds. She said that the ARLA was a genuine transaction that held Xtron liable for providing the church with a worship location.
The court heard that in the accounting treatment of the ARLA, it was used to set-off against two years of rental fees for Singapore Expo. Sharon Tan told the court this accounting entry was advised by audit manager Foong Aifang.
When asked what she had gained from the transactions, Sharon Tan replied that she did not receive any personal gains from any of the transactions. The reason she facilitated the transactions was because they had been approved by the board, audited by auditors and the agreements had been drafted by lawyers.
Earlier in the morning, Ramesh went through the statements Sharon Tan gave to the Commercial Affairs Department.
She had told the CAD during her second interview that she had previously misunderstood the term round-tripping. Tan explained this morning that after her first interview, she learned from the lawyers that round-tripping meant that money goes round in a cycle and is gone. However, using the advance rental to set-off the Xtron bonds would mean that Xtron is still liable for the transaction, the money has not disappeared.
The court also heard that by redeeming the bonds prematurely, CHC would not lose out because of the five percent discount on rental it was getting through the ARLA. This amounted to $10m in savings for CHC.
Ramesh closed by taking Sharon Tan through the charges she faces – she disagreed with all of them. She told the court in her mind, the church’s investment into the SOF was genuine. She also told the court there was no conspiracy among herself, Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han and Serina Wee—the board was fully aware of and approved of the transactions and the entries were genuine. Neither was there a conspiracy to defraud the auditors; rather, the auditors had full knowledge of the various transactions and the reasons behind them.
John Lam’s and Kong Hee’s defense lawyers embarked on their cross-examination of Sharon Tan late this morning.
Taking Sharon Tan through a investment committee meeting minutes on Aug 3, 2008 and board meeting minutes on Aug 5, 2008 and Oct 11, 2008, senior counsel Kenneth Tan for John Lam established that it was mentioned in these meetings that the Xtron took a loan from Standard Chartered Bank for the purchase of Riverwalk. Lam had told the court that the board was informed about the bank loan even though the minutes do not reflect. Sharon Tan confirmed that this both the board and the investment committee knew about the bank loan; it was not minuted down because the CHC minutes should not contain what Xtron is doing.
Sharon Tan also confirmed that Lam was right to recall that fund manager Chew Eng Han had given the investment committee a valuation report on Firna and told them that the company belonged to Wahju Hanafi and his father-in-law. However, she could not recall Chew talking about the personal gurantee Hanafi apparently gave.
The senior counsel also sought to clarify the circumstances behind the email that Sharon Tan wrote to Tan Ye Peng asking him if the board should know what are the Xtron and Firna bonds for. She was asking this because a board member Martin Ong had asked her why Xtron needed “so much funds”.
Earlier in the trial, the prosecution had used this email, among other evidence, to show that the board members did not know the real purpose of Xtron and Firna bonds.
Sharon Tan clarified that she wrote Tan Ye Peng the letter because she could not remember if the board members were told of the purposes for the bonds. Kenneth Tan went on to show that since Ong had given to Xtron in support of the Crossover Project, he would have been aware that Xtron needed funds for the project. Since the purpose of the restated Xtron bonds and the Firna bonds had been recorded in the meeting minutes—Ong was present at the meeting—he would have been aware of it as well. Sharon Tan agreed.
Just before lunch, Aaron Lee for Kong Hee established that at board meetings in 2009, Kong would usually only be in attendance for a short while.
Court resumed at 2.30pm.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：陈绍云“从来无意使教会蒙受亏损”