Serina Wee 'believed Ho Yeow Sun's album would fetch a profit'

SINGAPORE - Former City Harvest Church (CHC) finance manager Serina Wee had the impression that pop singer Ho Yeow Sun's English album would be profitable, she said on her second day of questioning.

This was why she thought music production firm Xtron, which managed Ms Ho, would be able to repay bonds the church had invested in on time, the accountant told the court yesterday.

Wee, 38, is one of six accused of misusing church monies to bankroll Ms Ho's music career, and the last to take the stand.

Ms Ho is married to church founder Kong Hee, one of the six.

Wee maintained the church's investment was not a sham. She said she believed that Ms Ho's English album - which was never released - would be able to sell the projected 1.5 million copies.

Her lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Maniam, noted Kong wanted to know how long it would take Xtron to repay the bonds if his wife's album sold only 100,000 copies. This was in a 2008 e-mail sent by deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, another of the accused. Wee said it would take up to 116 years. Over $10 million had been spent on the album. Wee said this was "just scenario planning" and that it was a "ridiculous scenario, totally unrealistic, unworkable".

CHC board members were also prepared to go ahead with the investments. "Everyone generally was feeling very good about the album and expecting Sun to be a great success," she said.

Asked how she had such an impression about sales, given that she had not directly dealt with Ms Ho's American producer Justin Herz, she said she trusted Kong, who was dealing with Mr Herz. She added: "Wyclef Jean was a big name in the industry... (so) I (expected) that the 1.5 million sales was doable." The hip-hop musician was brought in by Mr Herz to polish the album.

"The entire project would yield a net profit of $26 million... my impression was that the project was on track," she said.

limyihan@sph.com.sg