City Harvest trial: Finance manager concedes her action may have deceived auditors

SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church finance manager Sharon Tan broke down on the stand on Friday, even as she conceded that information she had inserted into church board meeting minutes may have deceived auditors.

Choking up under cross-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh, the 39-year-old said: "Your honour, it might be seen like they are being deceived, but... it wasn't my intention."

Tan had inserted information into the document, dated Sept 12, 2009, that the board had approved "advance rental" payments to music production firm Xtron of $7 million per year for eight years - part of a plan to purge bonds held in the firm from the church's books.

The court heard that the information was false, as no such approval was received from the board on that day.

Tan is one of six people, including founding pastor Kong Hee, accused of misusing $50 million of church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering up the misuse. The prosecution believes that all of the accused, except Tan, channelled money from the church's building fund into sham bond investments in Xtron, which is Ms Ho's management company, and glass manufacturer Firna. Four of them, including Tan, then allegedly devised transactions to clear the sham bonds from CHC's accounts to throw auditors off the scent.

Friday's hearing has centred on the church's book-keeping, with Tan taking the stand for the tenth day. This is the third time she has broken down on the stand.