SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church (CHC) was legally entitled to spend money from its building fund on the music career of Ms Ho Yeow Sun, a missions project of the church known as the Crossover Project.
That was the thrust of CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng's argument on Monday (Sept 19) morning.
In October last year, Tan was among six CHC leaders convicted of misappropriating millions in church funds to fuel the pop music career of Ms Ho, the wife of CHC founder Kong Hee, who is also one of the six leaders.
The court found that they had invested $24 million from CHC's building fund in bogus bonds from music production company Xtron and glass-maker Firna, but this money was, in fact, used to fund the Crossover Project.
Later, another $26 million was used to cover up the initial misdeed.
The six are appealing against their convictions and sentences, while the prosecution is also appealing - for longer sentences.
Tan's lawyer Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan kicked off proceedings on Monday morning, the third day of the appeals for the six City Harvest leaders.
"(Tan's) mind was very, very clear, the Crossover was legitimate and supported by church members," said Mr Sreenivasan.
Kong's right hand man, Tan, faces a 5½-year jail term.
Mr Sreenivasan pointed out that his client had provided "important and relevant information" to both auditors and lawyers, and they knew that the bond proceeds would ultimately fund the Crossover Project.
Yet, no red flags were raised, he said.
Referring to Tan and the other CHC leaders spending CHC's money on the bonds, Mr Sreenivasan said: "They did not have knowledge that they were not legally entitled to do so."
Having said that, Mr Sreenivasan also said Tan had made his peace with whatever finding the court would make.
"At the end of the day, if the court feels that it is legally wrong, then that is their will and (he) will let it be," he said.
Tan is the second last CHC leader to argue his defence. Former CHC finance manager Serina Wee, 39, is expected to present her case on Monday afternoon.
The appeal will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, and is being heard by Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn.