City Harvest trial: Kong Hee wanted to recoup church's investment in wife's music career

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee said in court on Tuesday that he had done his best to make sure the church could recover money it had invested in his wife Ho Yeow Sun's music career.

This included making sure that the budget for her foray into the United States music scene was not too excessive, questioning American producers' profit and loss projections for her debut English album to make sure they were realistic, and replacing noted producers like Haitian hip hop artiste Wyclef Jean when they asked for too much money for their work on the album, said Kong.

Kong and five others face various charges for their part in allegedly misusing some $50 million of church funds to boost Ms Ho's music career, and then to cover this up. City Harvest had invested church funds in bonds issued by music production firm Xtron Productions, Ms Ho's manager at the time. This money was used to finance her foray into the US. The prosecution believes the bonds were shams made to enable the misuse of church funds.

Questioned by his lawyer Edwin Tong, Kong said: "I did my level best to make sure that all of the money being put into the US album would come back. I spent many many hours working on the budgets to ensure the recoverability. Why? Because the church had invested its building fund in Xtron and I wanted to be sure the church suffered no loss."

Mr Tong sought to show that this diligence refuted the prosecution's claim "there was no genuine consideration of the bonds' recoverability", but Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong disagreed.

Mr Ong said it was clear from the prosecution's case that the defendants had not considered whether the church could recover its money when they decided to enter into the bond investments. Mr Tong seemed to be focusing on the period after the church's money had already been invested in the bonds, said Mr Ong.

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