THE prosecution in the City Harvest Church case mounted a stinging rebuttal as it sought to prove it had presented enough evidence for the trial to continue.
Tearing into arguments by the defence, Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh strived to show again that the six accused had cooked deals to misuse church funds, “fed lies” to auditors and “created false appearances in City Harvest’s books”.
She was responding to defence lawyers who had argued that, despite 42 days of trial since last May and 14 prosecution witnesses, the prosecution failed to show enough evidence for the charges against their clients.
The defence wants the case thrown out.
The judge will rule on that on May 5.
Church founder Kong Hee and five others are accused of misusing about S$50mil (RM129mil) in church funds.
While their lawyers had said auditors vetted and approved allegedly suspicious transactions, the prosecution believed the accused hid information from the auditors.
She pointed to church auditor Sim Guan Seng, who had said earlier in the trial that he would have “raised some red flags” about certain transactions had he been privy to more information.
By relying on the auditors’ approval as a defence now, the accused were “like the fraudster who manages to hide his own crimes, then tries to rely on his success in hiding that crime to exonerate himself,” Chionh said.
She also disagreed with lawyer Andre Maniam’s assertion that his client, former finance manager Serina Wee, could not be found guilty of criminal breach of trust since the “church money was used for church purposes”.
While part of the allegedly misused funds was spent to advance the pop music career of Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun, defence lawyers said the church had accepted her music as a form of evangelism.
Chionh said the evidence showed the money had been illegally taken from the church’s building fund. — The Straits Times/ Asia News Net-work