Prosecution wraps up case in City Harvest trial, with final leg of trial to start on July 14

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee leaves the Subordinate Courts on Feb 10, 2014. Prosecutors on Monday closed their case in the high-profile City Harvest Church trial, which has run for nine months and involved 14 witnesses so far. -- ST PHOTO:&nb
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee leaves the Subordinate Courts on Feb 10, 2014. Prosecutors on Monday closed their case in the high-profile City Harvest Church trial, which has run for nine months and involved 14 witnesses so far. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG 

Prosecutors on Monday closed their case in the high-profile City Harvest Church trial, which has run for nine months and involved 14 witnesses so far.

They continued to seek to show that two firms linked to the church, Firna and Xtron Productions, were puppets for alleged sham transactions.

They tried to back this up with the testimony of prosecution witness Foong Ai Fang, a manager from audit firm Baker Tilly who had overseen Xtron's FY2009 audit. Ms Foong, the final witness, pointed out that it was unusual for the church leaders to be consulted over how to explain the funds exchanged between the church and Xtron.

At the heart of this case are six church leaders, including founder and senior pastor Kong Hee, who are accused of funnelling $24 million meant for the church's building fund into sham bond investments in Firna and Xtron between 2007 and 2009.

They then allegedly tried to cover this up by falsifying church accounts to avoid scrutiny by their auditors. The money, prosecutors say, was used to finance the pop music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun.

The other accused are the church's deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, its former treasurer Chew Eng Han, former board member John Lam, former finance manager Serina Wee and its present finance manager Sharon Tan.

On Monday, the defence sought to show that audit firm Baker Tilly saw nothing untoward with Xtron's accounts during their FY2009 audit. Working papers for its Xtron audit indicated that it did not note "any history of unusual and/or complex transactions", said lawyer Andre Maniam, representing Serina Wee.

The trial will continue on July 14 with defence witnesses taking the stand. Before that, defence counsels will be filing for charges against their clients to be dropped. They will make these written submissions by Mar 10. Court will reconvene on Apr 8 to debate this, if deemed necessary.