CITY HARVEST TRIAL

City Harvest Trial: $600,000 in another investment written off

MORE than $600,000 in investments and loans had to be written off or offset by City Harvest Church (CHC) after an investment it made in a church-linked company turned sour.

CHC's former investment manager Chew Eng Han pointed this out in court yesterday during his cross-examination of co-accused Serina Wee during the long-running City Harvest trial.

The duo and four others, including founding pastor Kong Hee, are accused of misusing church money to bankroll the career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun.

They are charged with channelling $50 million from the church's building fund into sham bond investments and covering up the misuse.

Chew, 54, compared other investments made in 2005 and 2006 in Research University for Leadership (RUL) - a leadership training company where he was a director - to the purchase of Xtron bonds.

He was trying to prove that like the money pumped into RUL, church investments in Xtron - the company that managed Ms Ho's pop music career - were genuine ones with real contractual obligations. The prosecution says that the church's investments in Xtron bonds were a sham.

"If I remember correctly, none of these (RUL) amounts were repaid to the church. In other words, this investment went bad, right?" Chew asked.

Wee, 38, agreed.

He noted that the money had to be repaid to the church in the form of services rendered by RUL.

"Isn't this the same thing that happened with the Xtron bonds?" he asked, referring to how the bonds had to be offset by an advance rental licensing agreement.

Wee again said yes.

Later, Chew asked Wee about the Crossover, a project by the church to spread the Gospel through Ms Ho's music.

"Does it make any sense to you that we would want to cause loss to the church when there's no personal gain to us?" he asked.

Wee agreed that it did not make sense.

He noted that the only gain they had was the "satisfaction of fulfilling the vision of the church".

The trial continues on Monday.

dansonc@sph.com.sg