SINGAPORE: Sun Ho was not the successful singer City Harvest Church had made her out to be. Evidence showed the church spent about half a million dollars to buy her unsold Mandarin CDs.
The profitability of her artiste management company Xtron was also questioned, as the trial involving the church’s leader Kong Hee and his five deputies resumed on Monday (Aug 4).
The six church leaders are accused of misusing millions of church funds to buy sham bonds to bankroll Sun Ho’s music career.
She had been touted as a big commercial success, but lead prosecutor Mavis Chionh said the financial statements told a different story. In 2004, City Harvest Church spent about half a million dollars to buy her unsold (Mandarin) CDs – numbering at least 32,000 copies – to give away to overseas ministries and overseas churches.
These details surfaced as the prosecution sought to highlight inconsistencies in former church board member John Lam’s evidence. He had cited Ms Ho’s success as a reason the church should invest in bonds issued by Xtron – her artiste management company.
The Prosecutor had strong words for Lam. She called his evidence incredible, and a lie, and said he was desperate to find an explanation as to why he had gone along with a plan to let the church sink millions of dollars into what were essentially junk bonds.
Lam pointed out that junk bonds were not necessarily bad bonds, and added that he had believed that Sun’s US album sales would be good enough to cover the obligations of the bond. But the prosecution said that as a former director of Xtron, Lam would have known it was not a profitable company.
For example, its only asset was a laptop, with all other assets loaned by the church. It did not even have the budget to pay for a S$46,000 freight services bill.
The prosecution also drove home the point that Xtron was not the independent entity it had been made out to be. For one, Lam and his fellow accused Chew Eng Han had agreed to stamps of their signatures being made, to be used on Xtron invoices. Ms Chionh said the two were “happy to rubber stamp decisions”, knowing they were made by Kong and the church.
It was also heard that the bulk of Xtron’s funding came from the church members. For example, Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi’s donations to the Church Building Fund were refunded to him, and channelled to Xtron. The building fund pledges and tithes of some other members including Lam were also diverted to Xtron. The trial continues.