$13m used to promote Sun Ho's music career "completely honest" - 23May2013

SINGAPORE: The $13 million pumped into Xtron Productions and used to promote singer Sun Ho's career was "completely honest" and an open matter. Prosecution's third witness, former Xtron director Koh Siow Ngea, said this in the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial on Wednesday. Mr Koh, a property developer, was testifying in the trial against six CHC leaders, including founder Kong Hee, accused of committing criminal breach of trust. Kong Hee, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Tan Ye Peng and Serina Wee allegedly misused church building fund amounting to S$24 million by channelling the money into two companies, Xtron and PT the First National Glassware (Firna), in what were described as "sham bond investments". This allegedly took place between January 2007 and October 2008. A second set of charges involve Chew Eng Han, Tan Ye Peng, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan, who are said to have misappropriated some S$26 million to cover up the first sum. The funds were allegedly used to boost the music career of Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho. Taking the stand for the second day, Mr Koh testified that the S$13m was transferred from the church's building fund to Xtron. This was because Xtron was managing the singing career of Sun Ho at that time and the funds were invested in Xtron bonds, which were in turn used for her music album and its promotion. Sun Ho's music career is part of the church's Crossover Project, which aims to use pop music for evangelism. Defence lawyer Edwin Tong, who is representing Kong Hee, pointed out that "not a single cent" of that $13 million was spent on any other purpose. Mr Koh agreed. The witness also acknowledged that there was nothing secretive nor sinister about the transactions. Mr Koh agreed that in essence, the $13 million was used for church events. A sum of $13 million was provided to Xtron under the first bond subscription agreement signed between AMAC Capital Partners and Xtron. Referring to minutes of meetings, Mr Tong made the point that the church Board and investment committee had discussed Xtron bond investments as well as Xtron's ability to redeem the bonds. So, the church's investment committee, accountants, as well as the Board, were aware of these investments, he said. Mr Koh agreed and said he found those transactions proper. Mr Tong also tried to make the point that Mr Koh and his fellow director, Choong Kar Weng, consulted each other on matters of the company. This comes after prosecution alleged that Mr Koh was merely a figurehead while the church was the one controlling the firm. Earlier Wednesday, Mr Koh testified that the decision to purchase a unit at The Riverwalk was made by Xtron and not the church. Mr Koh said ultimately, the company was the one that approved the move to purchase The Riverwalk property. This was different from Tuesday's evidence, where he said the church was the one making decisions for Xtron. Defence lawyer Kenneth Tan pointed out that approval has to be obtained from Xtron, so the firm had the final say. Mr Koh agreed. Mr Tan, who is representing the accused John Lam, also cross-examined Mr Koh on the appointment of Xtron staff. The court heard on Tuesday that Mr Koh, the brother-in-law of accused Chew Eng Han, was appointed as director of Xtron by the church. But on Wednesday, Mr Tan pointed out that Mr Koh was nominated by the church as Xtron has its own directors and they decide whether or not to approve the church's nomination. Mr Koh agreed. At the start of the trial on Wednesday, Mr Koh clarified that the church was involved in the decision for Xtron to invest in Firna. But prosecution highlighted that this was contrary to what he had said on Tuesday - that only Xtron directors were involved. On Wednesday, prosecution asked why the church needed to be roped in to decide on whether Xtron, an independent firm, should invest in Firna bonds. To this, Mr Koh said the church gives its input but the final call is made by him after assessment. The court also heard that Mr Koh signed the minutes of an Xtron meeting dated 25 October 2008. The other director, Mr Choong, was not in Singapore at that time. This meant Mr Choong could not have attended the meeting or approved the minutes, but his signature was there. The prosecution then asked Mr Koh why he signed off on something with the incorrect date. Mr Koh said he was not sure and could not recall. www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/13m-used-to-promote-sun-ho-s-music-caree/684166.html