Friday, July 18, 2014

City Harvest Church trial to resume Monday

The trial involving the City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and his five deputies resumes on Monday.

SINGAPORE: The trial involving the City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and his five deputies resumes on Monday (July 14).

The fourth leg of the trial will stretch for a week, and the first of the six church leaders is expected to take the stand.

The City Harvest Church trial is shaping up to be one of the longest-running criminal trials.

In 2012, Kong Hee and his five deputies were charged with misusing S$24 million of church funds to finance his wife Sun Ho's music career.

Four of them were also accused of misappropriating S$26 million to cover up the first sum.

The trial began in May last year, and the prosecution wrapped up its case after 42 days over a nine-month period.

In May this year, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon decided that the six church leaders have a case to answer after hearing the prosecution's evidence.

The Judge accepted there was a plan to move money from the church's Building Fund to Xtron Productions and glassware firm Firna (PT The First National Glassware) for the purpose of funding Ms Ho's singing career.

The court also accepted there was evidence to show the monies were moved from the church to the various firms to generate a false appearance that the church's investments were redeemed.

The Judge said the six had been dishonest in the use of the money.

The trial's fourth leg will likely see former church board member John Lam take the stand. The other five have also indicated they will testify in their defence.

Channel NewsAsia understands defence lawyers are likely to argue that the six accused never acted with dishonest intent, and there was no intent to mislead or conceal information.

Another point they will likely make is that the bonds entered into were genuine investments and transactions with no monetary loss to the church, and that the transactions had been checked with lawyers and auditors to ensure their legitimacy.

After this week, the trial will be adjourned till August, when it will resume for most of the month and carry on into September.

It is understood that among the witnesses the defence intends to call are staff of the City Harvest Church as well as Kong's wife, Ms Ho.

- CNA/nd

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