SINGAPORE - Former City Harvest Church board member John Lam Leng Hung, 46, had raised doubts about projected American album sales of church founder Kong Hee's wife Ho Yeow Sun, he testified on Tuesday.
Ms Ho was the face of the megachurch's Crossover Project, which was launched in 2002 as an "outreach strategy" to evangelise to "unchurched" youth. As of 2008, there were plans to break into the US market under the management of music production firm Xtron, which is run by a long-time church supporter.
The company's balance sheets had included projected sales of Ms Ho's then-delayed debut US album to the tune of $16 million in 2011 and $23 million in 2012. Lam told the court that he felt there was a need to "justify the sales in 2011 and 2012", raising factors such as the number of albums to be launched and how many copies needed to be sold, and the sales volume as compared to other original artistes at the time.
But fellow accused and former church finance manager Serina Wee, 37, who also provided accounting services to Xtron, had said that Kong would have "some figures", and that the album was still undergoing discussions and no distribution contracts had been entered into. The album was never launched.
This was not the only instance which Lam had disagreed with the rest, the court heard yesterday, as Lam continued to distance himself from decisions made by the other accused. The court heard that he had also bucked the board's stance to purchase the Riverwalk property, which the church intended to use for worship. This was on the basis that there was "no indicative valuation" which he did not see the need to rush into.
The church's purchase of Xtron bonds is central to this trial - church leaders have been accused of misappropriating millions of church funds to buy sham bonds from Xtron and another church-linked firm to fund Ms Ho's music career.
Purportedly through its Building Fund, the church entered a bond subscription agreement with Xtron worth $13 million in July 2007. This was revised upwards to $18.2 million in August 2008 to enable Xtron to purchase Riverwalk.
The property was valued at $17.55 million.