Serina Wee tells the court that she loves the church and would not do anything to put it at risk.
At the end of her examination-in-chief this morning, Xtron’s accountant and City Harvest Church’s former finance manager Serina Wee told the court despite the predicament she is in today, she is thankful that she had a part to play in the Crossover mission, which touched many lives.
Wee told the court that working for the church had always been her dream. She said she was not a pastor or a preacher, but she enjoyed doing accounts and wanted to use that one gift to help the church fulfill its calling. Wee also said that she loves the church and would not do anything to put her leaders and the church at risk.
Referring to the transactions that are at the centre of the charges against her, Wee said she trusted that former fund manager and co-accused Chew Eng Han and the church leaders had sought advice from the lawyers and auditors at various points; it never crossed her mind that what they were doing could be illegal.
Early this morning, Wee’s lawyer senior counsel Andre Maniam took his client through several emails about the advance rental licensing agreement (ARLA). The court saw an Excel spreadsheet for the total advance rental. From the spreadsheet, Wee had pointed out that from the immediate cash proceeds, there was nothing left for the bidding of the church’s new property. Wee explained to the court that she had based her assumption on the immediate cash proceeds from the ARLA: there was only $140,000 left after factoring in the various expenses for Expo rentals. She had highlighted this to Chew and CHC’s finance manager, Sharon Tan, so that they could consider if the advance rental was sufficient.
Wee also clarified that her calculations were only based on the immediate cash proceeds from the ARLA; she had not factored in Xtron’s other resources like the Riverwalk property, sponsorships, the Firna bonds and other sources of income. This was because she was not sure when the bidding of property would happen. However she was aware that the property search would take months and even years, so Xtron would have time to sell the Riverwalk property and bring in income.
Eventually this became a moot point: Wee told the court that she later assumed that the leftover cash proceeds were enough for the bidding. She had heard of plans for the church to enter into joint ventures and take up bank loans, so she assumed those would be other sources of funds for the new church property.
The court saw in another email that Wee had told her staff Angie Koh that the rental amount for the future property stated in the ARLA was a “arbitrary figure”. She clarified today that the figure was an estimate. The court heard that on Sep 29, 2009, Chew had explained to Wee that the rental amount of $7m was calculated based on the existing rental the church was paying via Xtron. At the time, Xtron was leasing premises at the Singapore Expo at a cost of around $3m to $4m. Since the new property would be in a central location with double the seating space, Chew had estimated the rental to be around $7m. Wee added that she had not seen the exact working and breakdown of the rental amount, and that was why she called it an arbitrary figure.
Court resumes tomorrow, April 29, at 9.30am with cross-examination by the other defense counsel.
Serina Wee’s Closing Speech To Her Examination-In-Chief
Your Honour, just want to say that I’ve been in City Harvest 20 years and when I first came to the church, God was very real to me and I made a decision to give my life to Jesus. And as a young Christian, I desired in my heart that one day I can become a church staff and serve God full-time after I graduated, and when I had the chance to do so, it was like a dream come true to me.
And all those years when I was a church staff, and even after I started Advante, my company, all I wanted to do was to serve God. And I’m not a pastor, I’m not a preacher, but there’s one thing that I really enjoy doing, and I thought that I could do reasonably well, is to do accounts. And I took my work seriously. Whatever I did, I did to the best of my abilities.
And I just wanted to play a part, to help my church fulfill the call of God that he has given to the church.
Your Honour, I love my church a lot and I would not do anything illegal to put myself, my leaders and my church family at risk. I felt assured that whatever that was done was above board and I trusted in Eng Han’s financial expertise. Advice was sought from the lawyers, from the auditors at various points. It never crossed my mind that whatever that we were doing could possibly be violating the law.
Your Honour, I saw how my pastors, they love God and how they are always constantly thinking about the church. Your Honour, I can never imagine that they would do anything illegal to put this church that they love so much and they have built all these years and do any harm to it.
Your Honour, I just want to say, lastly, that I will not be in this predicament today if not for the vision of City Harvest Church, but when I think about the many lives that were touched because of City Harvest, because of the Crossover, I’m just thankful that I had a part to play in it.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：黄表示：我从未想过我们的行为可能触犯法律