City Harvest Trial: Facing Judgement Day

Oct 20, 2015 10.30AM |
 

LISTENING to what both sides have had to say about the City Harvest church leaders, you’d think they were talking about completely different people. So, we decided to have a go pulling together what each side has said about the people on trial. Kong Hee – figurehead, or mastermind? Tan Ye Peng – caring pastor? Or Kong’s partner-in-crime? Which side do you think the judge will see when he gives his verdict tomorrow?

 

1. Kong Hee, 50, City Harvest Church’s founding pastor, faces three charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT).Kong Hee

DEFENCE: “The evidence will instead show that Kong Hee tried his best to be careful and where he knew he did not have the requisite expertise or time, relied on CHC’s trusted advisors to assist CHC and to ensure that the transactions were legal and legitimate.”
PROSECUTION: “Far from being a mere figurehead in relation to the Xtron and Firna bonds, Mr Kong, as your Honour has seen from the evidence before you, was a meticulous and details-oriented leader, whose express approval was needed before the bonds could go ahead.”

 

2. Tan Ye Peng, 42, the church’s deputy senior pastor, faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts.

Tan Ye Peng

DEFENCE: “As I was on the stand… I remember a verse in the Bible that says, if a man does not stumble on his words, he is a perfect man. I want to say that I’m far from being perfect… I never intended to cause any loss to the church… I have not done any of these things for personal gain. I go back every night and do my prayers, I check my heart, and I can honestly say that I only wanted the church to benefit.”
PROSECUTION: “The implicit message throughout Mr Tan Ye Peng’s defence was that he was a very naive man, incapable of exercising his own judgment and completely dependent on others to make decisions for him. But what this claim entirely deflects is the reality that, at the relevant time, Tan Ye Peng’s authority was second only to Kong Hee’s in the management of the Crossover (Project), and he was the second-most senior executive officer of the church.”

 

3. Chew Eng Han, 54, the church’s former investment committee member, faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts.

Chew Eng Han

DEFENCE: “Your Honour, I believe in supporting Sun. I believe in having members cough up their own money to buy CDs. I will do it personally. But I do not believe in falsifying success, because if success is falsified, the faith of the members are being robbed, number one. Number two, this was supposed to be an investment. There are people involved in this whole album investment and they bet their lives on that. They put their lives on the chopping board, thinking that Sun is a success. And if they think that Sun is a real success, then, of course, the album is an investment. But if they had known that Sun’s success was not real, then would they have gone in the same way and supported the album investment the same way? Probably not.”
PROSECUTION: “Chew Eng Han said that he looked at Sun Ho’s track record of sales and chart success for the past Mandarin albums and English singles, based on news shared with him and CHC’s members at large. He did not look at whether there were any profits coming in as a result of this past success. He agreed that sales did not necessarily translate into profits, but he did not address his mind to net margins, overheads and the other factors that would affect any eventual profit. He simply asked Kong Hee for the profit margin and multiplied it by the expected number of sales, trusting whatever Kong Hee told him, and this was the extent of his due diligence.”

 

4. Serina Wee, 38, former finance manager, faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts.

Serina Wee Gek

DEFENCE: “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 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 (Project), I’m just thankful that I had a part to play in it.”
PROSECUTION: “Ms Wee’s defence is a bare denial. With respect, her submissions are more notable for what they have failed to address than what they actually address. Of all the accused persons in this trial, she was clearly one of the persons most involved in all the sham bond transactions and round-tripping transactions, due to the nature of her role as the administrator of the Crossover Project.”

 

5. John Lam, 47, former investment committee member, faces three charges of CBT.

Lam Leng Hung

DEFENCE: “I have to make the point that you see, you say that John Lam is the inside man…He is not some Rottweiler or watchdog. The watchdogs in these organisations are the board, the IC, external advisers who advise. Each of them has knowledge, differing degrees of knowledge. The prosecution’s not suggesting that any of them are guilty of investing, creating an investment with no obligations. We would say that it is the same for John.”
PROSECUTION: “John Lam had a special role that none of the other conspirators could have fulfilled… it was John Lam who occupied key positions of financial responsibility due to his reputation as an experienced and highly-qualified financial expert. The evidence highlighted below will show that he played the essential role of “inside man” in CHC’s governance and oversight bodies, preventing them from discovering the sham nature of the bonds planned and executed by his co-conspirators.”

 

6. Sharon Tan, 39, former finance manager, faces three charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts. 

Tan Shao Yuen Sharon

DEFENCE: “This is not a smooth operator or highly sophisticated wheeler-dealer…she had no corporate experience. This was her first job… She did not take a cut from the proceeds. She was not going to get a pay rise or an extra bonus for what she did.”
PROSECUTION: “Sharon’s defence is deeply cynical and self-serving. As we have shown in our closing submissions, her evidence demonstrating her full participation with her round-tripping co-accused in the planning, execution and subsequent cover-up of the round-tripping transactions makes the full extent of her guilty knowledge apparent.”

 

Featured image and illustrations by Akiru.

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