Chew Eng Han’s testimony in court showed his role could have been bigger in matters he has claimed little involvement in.
This morning in court, the prosecution accused former fund manager Chew Eng Han of being disingenuous, ignoring the obvious meaning of his own words.
Deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong took the court through an email in which Chew and the others detailed plans to use the advanced rental paid to Xtron by CHC for the Crossover Project.
In the email, Chew had voiced his concerns for the transactions to “look real and legitimate and arm’s length.” The prosecution pointed out that this was evidence of Chew merely wanting to maintain the “form” of legality instead of ensuring that it really was proper and at arm’s length.
Chew told the court that he was trying to avoid exposing themselves to “baseless accusations” akin to what had transpired during the Roland Poon saga.
In his defense, the fund manager explained that he was in fact trying to preempt doubts from the auditors that the prices in the transaction may not have been set at arm’s length, and not that the advanced rental was sham.
The prosecution accused him of lying and ignoring the clear meaning of his own words. Ong said that the accused were really proposing for the church to pay rental twice—first toward the Crossover Project disguised as building rental, and then another time to replace what had been channeled out.
Chew disagreed, stating that the shortfall was expected to be topped up once revenue from the album sales started coming in. The advanced rental was only meant as interim funds for the Crossover Project; this had been made known to auditor Foong Daw Ching, he said.
In the afternoon, Chew testified that he had the impression that auditor Foong Daw Ching had the authority to override the decisions of the other auditors in his firm. That was why a couple of emails showed him and his co-defendants saying that the engagement partner for CHC’s account, Sim Guan Seng, might have changed his mind after they spoke to Foong.
Chew told the court that Foong was to Teo Foong Wong Baker Tilly (the audit firm) what Kong Hee is to CHC.
He also told the court that while nobody had told him that Foong had this authority, he assumed it to be so because of the way Foong related to them. The then managing partner had confidence and had never once said he needed to check with his audit partners.
The prosecution asked Chew if he ever felt the need to hide things from the auditors and Chew replied that on one occasion, he told the church’s accountant Sharon Tan not to give Sim Guan Seng details about the Special Opportunities Fund.
This was because the two tranches of SOF —T10 and T11 — had already redeemed by the time the audit started, Chew told the court. Since there was no valuation issue, he did not see any reason to disclose what the SOF had been invested in, namely Transcu and Ultimate Assets.
Chew felt that as fund manager, he had no need to answer to anyone but the board. He did not want to answer to the auditor, he told the court.
Cross-examination resumes tomorrow at 9.30am.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：周：除董事会外，无需向他人交代