The deputy senior pastor maintains that he and co-accused were genuinely trying to seek advice from auditor Foong Daw Ching, a point the prosecution is challenging.
This morning’s proceedings saw the prosecution revisiting its theory that the defendants had gone to auditor Foong Daw Ching to test their “cover story” and not to genuinely get his advice.
When co-defendants Kong Hee and Sharon Tan were on the stand, it was put to them that they constantly went to Foong not because they wanted his advice, but to test if the story they came up with to avoid addressing related party issues raised by the auditors.
The prosecution produced an email in which Tan Ye Peng sent to Foong asking him to meet “alone”, and another email where Tan told Serina Wee to see Foong alone. The prosecution questioned Tan repeatedly about his reason for seeing Foong.
Like his co-defendants, Tan Ye Peng explained he sought Foong because the managing partner had been working with the team for a long time and he understood the sensitivity of related party disclosure between Xtron and City Harvest Church. Moreover, Foong had said more than once that he was overseeing all the CHC-related accounts and the number one person in the company, so it was natural for the team to seek his views.
Tan added that it was not to hide anything from the auditors. Since they were auditing both CHC and Xtron accounts, there would be no way to hide matters from the auditors.
This afternoon saw the prosecution alleging that Foong had not been consulted specifically about the church’s plan to invest into Xtron.
While there had been a meeting between Tan and Chew Eng Han with Foong at a meeting on 25 Jun 2007—some weeks before the Xtron bond subscription agreement was entered into—the prosecution alleged that it was only to get Foong’s advice about general accounting treatments should the church decide to invest, and not to ask him specifically about the plan to invest into Xtron.
To support its claim, the prosecutor revisited a detailed document containing descriptions of CHC’s relationship with Xtron sent to Foong by Tan, about a year after the first Xtron bond transaction.
The prosecution took issue with the fact that within the document, Tan had asked Foong if the church’s investments were proper and if there was any breach in its corporate governance.
If the accused had consulted Foong about the legality of the bonds earlier, why the need to ask him again, the prosecution challenged.
Tan disagreed, saying it was precisely because of the Xtron bonds that they wanted to meet with Foong. However, he recalled that back in 2007, Foong had not been explicitly informed about Xtron’s unfavorable financial status. It was in 2008, after the Ren Ci saga, that the church leadership wanted to provide Foong with more comprehensive information in order to obtain assurance about the legality of its investments.
Furthermore, Xtron was being audited by the same set of auditors from Baker Tilly; these auditors had no issue with closing its accounts every year despite its losses because of the good financial standing of its director Wahju Hanafi, Tan added. It thus did not strike him as a foremost point to highlight to Foong back then.
Included in the document were also details about the retainer and advanced rental agreements between CHC and Xtron; the intention had been to give Foong as much information as possible, said Tan.
The prosecution pressed on, saying that the document was drawn up with the intention to hide the true nature of CHC’s relationship with Xtron from Foong, giving him the false impression of Xtron being independent from CHC in order to “steer” him to provide the answers the accused wanted to hear.
Tan disagreed that Foong was under any false impression; in fact, Foong had subsequently advised that given Sun Ho’s position as a key player in Xtron, there may be related party issues between CHC and Xtron.
To resolve this, the artist management rights for Ho were subsequently transferred out of Xtron, Tan pointed out.
Court resumes at 9.30am tomorrow.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：陈一平反驳利用审计师来试探其“托辞”的指控