City Harvest Church board members were told to be discreet about the relationship between the church and music production company Xtron Productions, said the church's finance manager Sharon Tan on Monday (Sep 15).Tan is one of six church leaders accused of misusing more than S$50 million of funds, and this was her second day on the stand.
The court heard that Xtron Productions was started in 2003 by three church members, to own and manage future buildings that the church could use consistently. Since then, there have been changes in Xtron's directorship. According to court documents, church founder Kong Hee had told attendees this during an extraordinary general meeting on Aug 10, 2008.
He described Xtron as being "like our own GIC" - referring to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund - and said it was the result of members "doing things for the purpose of wanting to fulfil the vision of our church". The company needed to be "friendly" towards the church, such that when they owned a property, they would give the church "priority to rent it whenever we want it, however we want it", he had said.
Kong acknowledged that Xtron needed to have a "track record that it's a viable, profitable company" so that banks and developers and Government authorities would want to work with it.
He also said that for Xtron to be credible, there had to be a separation from the church. To do so, various steps were taken. For example, the church would not hold shares in Xtron, and and Xtron would also organise and manage several secular events.
During the meeting, attendees were asked to apply a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to Xtron. Tan said she understood that Xtron was a "vehicle" that would hold the church's future building.
She added that the church had been in search of a property "for the longest time". The difficulty of finding a venue big enough to hold the church's congregation left commercial property as the only option, rather than land set aside for religious purposes.
The trial continues on Tuesday (Sep 16). - CNA/xy