Tan Ye Peng maintains that it was at a meeting with Foong Daw Ching that the auditor advised discretion in representing the sensitive relationship between CHC and Xtron.
On the fourth day of the prosecution’s long-drawn cross-examination of City Harvest Church’s deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, the prosecution spent a large part of the morning session focusing on CHC’s control over Xtron.
Tan’s position is that the church had influence but not control over Xtron; Xtron directors were ultimately responsible for decisions that involved matters like financing and legalities. The prosecution today launched into the allegation that the directors of Xtron and other associated entities were handpicked by CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee and Tan himself. Tan explained that while he and Kong would make suggestions for new Xtron directors, the appointment would be made in consultation with the relevant directors. The reason for this, said Tan, was that there was a preference for spiritually mature members of the church who could think for themselves.
On the appointment of Koh Siow Ngea as Xtron director, Tan recalled having conversations with Choong before a CHC board meeting, held on Aug 3, 2008, to discuss with him Koh’s appointment. He also recalled Choong as being present in the board meeting where the board deliberated the merits of appointing Koh, then a CHC board member, as a Xtron director to facilitate Xtron’s property search for CHC given Koh’s background as a property developer.
When former fund manager, Chew Eng Han, was on the stand, he said that Koh understood that he was appointed as director to fulfill his duty of securing a property for CHC. However, Chew also testified that a director that didn’t do what was expected of him would be removed. Tan disagreed with this, pointing out that Choong had once rejected Tan’s suggestion of CHC giving Xtron advance rental to purchase Riverwalk.
Tan added that if the Xtron directors felt that it was more profitable to Xtron if they sell the unit, there would have been nothing to stop them; that was precisely why the convertibility feature was included in the amended Xtron bonds, to safeguard the church.
The afternoon saw the prosecution taking the court to an email written by Serina Wee to update Kong Hee about the outcome of a meeting between Tan, Wee and Baker Tilly auditor Foong Daw Ching.
In the email, Wee had listed suggestions given by Foong with regards to representing the relationship between CHC and Xtron, in order to avoid consolidation. The court had earlier heard that Foong, having been a long-time advisor to the CHC leadership in audit matters, was aware of the need to maintain discretion with regards to the relationship between CHC and Xtron.
In Wee’s email, Foong had advised showing that CHC didn’t have full control but only some control over Xtron; he had also told Tan and Wee that was no need to minute down everything that went on at the extraordinary general meetings. During his time on the stand, Foong had denied giving such advice.
When questioned by the prosecution, Tan confirmed that Foong had indeed given the advise as recorded by Wee in her email.
The prosecution charged that Tan, along with the other accused, saw Foong as a “magical shield” to justify their actions.
Tan refuted the characterization, further adding that Foong had previously explained if two companies did not have common directors and if the directors from one company was not on another company’s management board, then the companies would not be considered as related parties.
The prosecution called Tan “disingenuous” and contended that there was no reason for Foong to give advice that amounted to concealing the relationship between CHC and Xtron.
Tan maintained his ground; “I was present at the meeting and what Serina said was correct.”
The prosecution also tried, at length, to show that Tan and Wee kept trying to come up with “excuses” to pump more church money into Xtron to solve its cash flow problems; Tan repeatedly explained that they were indeed trying to resolve Xtron’s cash flow issues, but that any fee paid to Xtron had to be for real and necessary services.
Tan said that that has always been the way the CHC leadership worked: to achieve a win-win situation, and asked: What was wrong with that?
Court resumes tomorrow at 9.30 am.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：陈问道：CHC努力做到双赢局面有何不妥