SINGAPORE - The music success of City Harvest pastor-singer Ho Yeow Sun had been grossly exaggerated, former church treasurer Chew Eng Han said in court on Monday.
Her success was a result of church members spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy her CDs as well as lies about her achievements and awards, said Chew.
Pointing to a raft of e-mail and other documents, Chew said that, contrary to the church's website and Ms Ho's own blog, she had not sung the theme song for the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai.
Referring to another example, Chew said that while Ms Ho, whose stage name is Sun Ho, was supposedly honoured for being the first foreign celebrity to be featured on a special China stamp series, "those stamps are nothing more than personalised stamps that anybody can go to the post office to pay for", Chew said.
He called the supposed honour "a scam" and produced copies of Ms Ho's stamps and others in the China series to show the difference.
Chew said the deception had been to boost confidence in Ms Ho's planned debut American album, which was part of a church-approved Crossover Project to evangelise using her secular music.
Chew, City Harvest founder Kong Hee and four others face various charges for their part in the alleged misuse of some $50 million of church funds to boost Ms Ho's pop music career and then to cover up the deed.
"After a series of discoveries since 2013, I discovered the Crossover was not what it was supposed to be... Many members of City Harvest Church that trusted the leadership took what was told to us at face value. I was one of them," Chew said.
Representing himself, Chew put to Kong, who was taking the stand for the second week: "The real reason the US album was constantly delayed year after year was because you secretly knew Sun's success was not real... You consciously kept all relevant information from me to use me to help you arrange the necessary financing."
Kong strenuously denied the claims. He said he believed that Ms Ho's stamp honour was genuine because there had been a ceremony attended by officials.
He added that while he had not attended the 2007 Special Olympics, he knew Ms Ho had recorded a song, "and there could be more than one theme song".
"I know that Sun recorded a song that was used by the Special Olympics," he said.
As for the claim that members had bought Ms Ho's CDs to boost sales, Kong said some of the purchases were "just to stimulate momentum" and "a norm in the industry".
Other purchases had been paid for by church members who wanted to support Ms Ho. "They gave us the money and we used it for the buying (of) CDs. We didn't buy the CDs as something fake, for every CD we bought, there was an intended recipient," Kong said.