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CHC trial: Church spent S$500,000 to buy Sun Ho’s unsold CDs

SINGAPORE — Ms Sun Ho was not the successful singer City Harvest Church had made her out to be. Evidence showed that the church had spent about half a million dollars buying her unsold CDs.

CHC trial: Church spent S$500,000 to buy Sun Ho’s unsold CDs

One of the accused, Chew Eng Han (picture), is the brother-in-law of Xtron director Koh Siow Ngea. Photo: Ernest Chua

SINGAPORE — Ms Sun Ho was not the successful singer City Harvest Church had made her out to be. Evidence showed that the church had spent about half a million dollars buying her unsold CDs.

The profitability of her artiste management company Xtron was also called into question as the trial involving the church’s leader Kong Hee and his five deputies resumed yesterday.

The six church leaders are accused of misusing more than S$50 million of church funds to buy sham bonds to bankroll Ms Ho’s music career.

Although she had been touted as a big commercial success, lead prosecutor Mavis Chionh said the financial statements told a different story.

In 2004, City Harvest Church spent about half a million dollars buying at least 32,000 of her unsold Mandarin CDs to give to ministries and churches overseas.

These details surfaced as the prosecution sought to highlight inconsistencies in the evidence given by former church board member John Lam.

Lam had cited Ms Ho’s success as a reason for the church’s investment in bonds issued by Xtron. He pointed out that the junk bonds were not necessarily bad ones and added that he had believed Ms Ho’s album sales in the United States would be good enough to cover the obligations of the bond.

However, the prosecution said that as former director of Xtron, Lam would have known it was not a profitable company. For example, its only asset was a laptop and all its other assets were loaned from the church. It did not even have the budget to pay a S$46,000 freight services bill.

The prosecution also pointed out that Xtron was not the independent entity it had been made out to be. For one, Lam and fellow accused Chew Eng Han had agreed to stamps being made of their signatures to be used on Xtron’s invoices.

Ms Chionh said the two were “happy to rubber stamp decisions”, knowing that they were made by Kong and the church and were happy to go along with those decisions.

The court also heard that the bulk of Xtron’s funding came from the church’s members. For example, Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi’s donations to the church’s building fund were refunded to him and channelled to Xtron. The building fund pledges and tithes of some other members, including Lam’s, were also diverted to Xtron.

The trial continues.

CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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