City Harvest Trial: Trustee had not seen documents linked to church's investment

Mr Jeffrey Cheong said on Friday that he had not seen several documents related to the church's investments. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Mr Jeffrey Cheong said on Friday that he had not seen several documents related to the church's investments. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

A trustee of the City Harvest Church responsible for managing its assets said on Friday that he had not seen several documents related to the church's investments.

This, however, was not unusual as the trustees had given an investment firm the power to negotiate and sign agreements on their behalf, he said.

The documents were related to financial transactions which are at the heart of the ongoing criminal trial against church founder Kong Hee and five of his deputies.

The six were charged last year with conspiring to cheat the megachurch of about $50 million in total. $24 million was allegedly misused to finance Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun's music career, and another $26 million purportedly taken to cover this up.

Mr Jeffrey Cheong, a founding member of the church who is now one of its three trustees, said he would have been briefed on other documents about investments at the time he signed them, but he could not recall what he had been told.

Among the documents shown in court on Friday which he had not seen was an letter from John Lam Leng Hung, one of the accused, to the owners of glassware manufacturer Firna. The church had agreed to invest up to $24.5 millions in Firna bonds, although only $11 million was eventually given to the firm.

Part of the contract allowed the church to convert the bonds to shares in the company. However, if this was ever done, City Harvest would sell the shares back to the company at just US$1, Lam promised in the letter.