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Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 8:19:52 AM
City Harvest church leaders wanted to buy a stake in Suntec City and had recalled the church’s investment money and loans to raise funds. The transactions involved were legal and in some cases even “common” in the business world.
That was the explanation put up yesterday by defence lawyers who were giving a more prosaic take on financial deals which the state believes were used to conceal a misuse of church funds.
Three prominent law firms including Singapore’s Drew & Napier and Rajah & Tann had also drafted these and other allegedly suspect transactions and found nothing wrong with them, the defence argued.
City Harvest founder Kong Hee and five of his deputies were charged last year with misusing about S$50mil (RM131mil) of church funds, partly through the buying of alleged sham bonds.
A prosecution witness had said earlier that former church investment manager Chew Eng Han, one of the accused, told him that the church’s auditors had grown “uncomfortable” with the bonds.
Chew then proposed a plan to “restructure” these bonds.
But defence lawyer N. Sreenivasan noted that at the time, City Harvest was in talks to purchase the Suntec stake, and suggested that the various transactions that followed was to finance this.
He also noted that in the end, the church and its investment manager AMAC Capital Partners’ bond monies were paid back with interest in full, so they had not suffered any losses as a result of the transactions. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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