CITY HARVEST CHURCH AUDITOR FOUND SOME CHURCH TRANSACTIONS UNUSUAL

SINGAPORE: The lead auditor of the City Harvest Church's accounts said he found some of the church's transactions "a bit unusual".

Taking the stand for the first day on Friday, Sim Guan Seng of Baker Tilly said for the transactions he found unusual, he would then ask the church management board for its business rationale.

Mr Sim is the auditor who posed several questions as to the authenticity of the bond transactions between the church, events firm Xtron and the church's fund manager, AMAC Capital Partners.

Xtron had issued S$13 million worth of bonds which AMAC bought.

The money was then used to produce singer Sun Ho's music albums.

Ms Ho, wife of church founder Kong Hee, is part of the church's Crossover Project

It is the prosecution's case that Kong Hee and five of his deputies misused millions of monies from the building fund, through "sham bond investments" in companies like Xtron and AMAC.

Earlier on Friday, the prosecution referred to the subordination of the church's rights under the Xtron bond agreement to the bank.

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Xtron had wanted a S$10.7 million loan from the bank to raise capital to buy a Riverwalk property that cost S$17 million.

But the prosecution pointed out that Xtron had issued S$18 million worth of bonds in total to the church.

This was more than enough to purchase the Riverwalk property.

The prosecution asked the church's longest-serving trustee, Tan Yew Meng, if he knew why Xtron was taking up a loan when it already had money from the issuance of bonds.

Mr Tan said no one explained it to him.

During re-examination, Mr Tan said he did not know that S$13 million was drawn down.

The prosecution charged that the S$13 million was drawn down so it could go towards Ms Ho's album production.

It is also the prosecution's case that this was why Xtron needed a further $10.7 million from the bank to make the property purchase.

Mr Tan later agreed with the defence that it was not unusual for him to not be informed of the various transactions, since it was not under his purview.

The defence also sought to make the point that if Xtron had defaulted, it could have used the proceeds from the sale of the property to pay the bank loan.

The trial continues.

- CNA/xq

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