CHC Trial – 18 August 2014 (Part 4)
Kong’s refund of royalties
Over the course of three years from 2006 to 2008, the church bought $3 million worth of Kong’s merchandise. In 2008, Kong returned his royalties of $788,000 to Attributes Pte Ltd (APL), who in turn “would return whatever portion they needed to return back to City Harvest Church (CHC)”. This was done to avoid disclosure of Kong’s royalties in CHC’s financial statements as Kong may have been deemed a related party of CHC.
Referring to an email from co-accused Serina Wee to Kong, Chew asked Kong what Wee was referring to when she said “MPA will be returning you $222K royalties”. Kong replied that Wahju Hanafi, one of the MPA donors, heard about Kong returning his royalties to APL and wanted to bless him through the MPA.
However, as Hanafi’s funds were stuck in the bank, Wee suggested to Kong in her email that “If by then Wahju still can’t release the funds stuck in UBS, we will get him to return S$200,000 to MPA first from the balance in Firna bank account so we can still return you the S$222K.” Chew submitted to Kong that the “balance in Firna bank account” could only refer to Firna bond proceeds as Wee would not have had access to all of Hanafi’s company bank accounts.
Wee ended her email saying, “In essence he doesn’t lose the money.” Kong refuted this with claims that he did not get back the lost royalty on which he had already paid tax.
Chew then submitted to Kong that “this whole exercise of refunding the royalties to Attributes, which goes back to the church, and then getting back your refund from Firna bond, which comes from the church, is nothing more than a round-tripping.” In addition, Kong received another sum of money from CHC KL, which Chew said “came from City Harvest Singapore as well and all this is nothing more than another round-tripping.”
Kong disagreed, saying, “…if some of the MPA donors wanted to bless me and compensate me for my lost royalties, I’m appreciative of that. I didn’t force them to do it.”