The refund of members’ building fund offerings, including Wahju Hanafi’s was not meant to conceal anything, but had been done willingly by the givers and approved by the board.
Today in court, the prosecution launched various accusations at City Harvest Church’s deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, who calmly attempted to explain the circumstances leading to various events and actions.
DPP Mavis Chionh’s litany included why the minutes did not reflect the discussions that took place during CHC board meetings; what Tan’s view was on Kong Hee’s role in the financing of the Crossover Project and the “no church funds were used” allegation.
The prosecution questioned Tan on the church’s board minutes which had left out things that had been discussed during meetings. Tan told the court that the practice was to record the eventual decision made and not the discussion, but there was “nothing sinister” about this.
He told the court that at that time, the church was moving very fast, decisions were made on the go and circumstances changed. Tan admitted that with the benefit of hindsight, the board could have done things better, and added that now, things have changed.
Tan also reiterated that the board members discussed matters not only in board meetings but also at church. They would keep each other informed in an informal way.
The prosecution also questioned Tan on Kong Hee’s role in the US Crossover Project. It is the prosecution’s case that the Kong is the real decision-maker when it comes to the budgeting and financing of the Crossover Project. Tan maintained that while the budget came from Kong’s discussion with Justin Herz, Sun Ho’s producer in US, the Xtron directors had to make an independent decision when they approved the budget. They had to decide if they had the means to pay for what had been budgeted, said Tan.
When it came to financing, Tan told the court that Kong would tell him and Serina Wee the needs of the Crossover Project and Tan would go to Chew Eng Han to brainstorm ways to find financing. Chew would then work out a way to fund the project. The prosecution then pointed out that Xtron directors had no decision-making role in this process.
Tan disagreed, explaining the process: after Chew had a financing suggestion, the advice of the auditor and lawyer would be sought on the feasibility of the plan. After all this was done, the Xtron directors would be approached for their approval. The Xtron directors would make their decision based on the information given and their support of the Crossover Project.
In the afternoon, senior counsel for Tan Ye Peng, N Sreenivasan objected to the deputy public prosecutor implying there had been a conspiracy among the accused since 2003.
The court had earlier heard that at an annual general meeting in 2003, some months after the Roland Poon saga, Kong Hee had informed members no church funds were used to fund the Crossover Project.
In his testimony on the stand, Kong had explained that the statement was made on the accounting basis that the expenses had been recorded only as deferred expenditure in CHC’s books. They were later reallocated to Attributes Pte Ltd, the church’s bookstore, and borne by Wahju Hanafi via a refund of his building fund monies which were ultimately donated to Xtron for the Crossover Project.
This afternoon, the DPP highlighted that the paragraph in the 2002 board minutes detailing the reallocation of the Crossover Project expenses from CHC to Attributes was only inserted in 2003. She suggested this allocation had not been discussed at the 2002 meeting, but added in 2003 so the “no church funds” statement could be made.
The prosecutor speculated that arrangements had been made for executive members to have their building fund monies refunded and rechanneled into Xtron to support the Crossover Project, and that all this was part of a grand plan by Kong, Serina Wee “and others” to conceal the fact that the church previously funded the Crossover.
At this point, Sreenivasan objected to the prosecution’s allegation that there had been a conspiracy as far back as 2003; the charges only concerned events circa 2007 to 2010.
Tan explained to the court that whatever refunds were made had been done with the board’s approval and the knowledge of auditor Foong Daw Ching. He also pointed out that Hanafi and other members who had rechanneled their building fund offerings had willingly done this. There had been a precedent set, he said, when the church needed funds to build its Jurong West church and members asked for refunds of their general fund offerings and gave those monies into the building fund.
“If the monies are refunded after board approval, it becomes the individual’s money, who then on his own volition gives it to the Crossover Project with the understanding that the Crossover Project is the missions objective of the church,” said Tan, explaining his point of view.
Court resumes 9.15am tomorrow.