A pillar of the prosecution’s case against Sharon Tan has been that the Advance Rental Licensing Agreement was used to cover up the fact that church funds were used to redeem the Xtron and Firna bonds. This morning, senior counsel Kannan Ramesh established the true context of the plan.
Providing a proper context for the events leading to the inception of the Advance Rental Licensing Agreement, senior counsel Kannan Ramesh, defense lawyer for Sharon Tan, sought to challenge prosecution’s claims that the ARLA was a sham this morning.
The prosecution had shown a Blackberry message in which Chew Eng Han described the ARLA plan to Sharon Tan and said that the ARLA was for the purposes of redeeming the bonds, and that the property search was not a concern.
To show the series of events that had taken place before this message, Ramesh brought Sharon Tan through an email and other Blackberry messages this morning.
On May 2, 2009, Sharon Tan sent Serina Wee and John Lam an email outlining the plan that Chew had for ARLA.
On Jul 18, 2009, Chew shared the plan with the church management board. The handwritten notes taken down by Sharon Tan during this board meeting showed that CHC bid for Suntec Singapore and lost. Tan testified that this discussion was not minuted down because it was confidential information and the board was concerned about CHC’s staff members stumbling upon the meeting minutes.
Sometime in the first week of August, Tan raised her concerns for the need to solve the Firna bond issue before October 2009, which was the end of the church’s financial year. She explained to the court that her concern arose from the fact the redemption plan using the ARLA would only happen when a building was secured; but Chew had announced that the bid into Suntec had failed, so Tan was unsure when the next bid would be. If there was no property, there would be no ARLA to solve the Firna bond issue. Because Tan was aware that the Firna bond proceeds went into Crossover Project, she was concerned that Sim would look into the Firna bonds and insist on related party transaction disclosure.
Chew eventually came up with a solution to solve the bond issues even if there was no property by October 2009, and he shared the plans with Tan in that Blackberry message the prosecution presented. In it, Chew told Sharon Tan that this plan had to be included in the board meeting minutes and that the board had to pass a resolution to approve the plan. This was the plan to use the ARLA to give Xtron the mandate to secure a building for CHC—this was so that Xtron would be responsible for securing a place for the church to use.
In her reply to Chew’s Blackberry message, Sharon Tan had asked if Chew had shared the ARLA and redemption plan with CHC’s pastors Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng. Chew assured her that they were aware of the plan. Sharon Tan also asked if Chew had spoken to lawyer Christina Ng from Rajah and Tann about the plan. Sharon Tan explained that because Tan Ye Peng was to share the plans with the board in the next board meeting, she wanted to ensure that the lawyers had given their approval before the plan was brought up to the board.
The board meeting was initially scheduled on Aug 22, 2009 but because Chew could not make it, the meeting was postponed to Sep 12. Tan Ye Peng had wanted Chew to be around for the meeting when he presented the plan because the bonds were structured by Chew and the idea of the ARLA and redemption plan also came from the fund manager.
Sharon Tan’s handwritten notes from that Sep 12 meeting showed that what Chew had shared with her in the BlackBerry message was consistent with what was shared with the board. Tan Ye Peng also told the board that both auditor Foong Daw Ching and lawyer Christina Ng were agreeable to the plan.
In the course of the cross-examination, the prosecution had cast doubt on the authenticity of Sharon Tan’s handwritten notes. Deputy public prosecutor Mavis Chionh had alleged that important information had not been minuted, not because the board had instructed Sharon Tan not to put it on record according to her evidence, but because it had never been discussed.
Today, Ramesh pointed out that while the handwritten notes showed that there was a discussion on staff remuneration by the church’s administration manager Teo Meng How, that piece of information had also not been recorded in the actual minutes. This showed that the not minuting down confidential information was consistent and it did not only apply to things pertaining bonds and ARLA issues.
Court resumed at 2.30pm.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：辩方建立ARLA计划背景