CITY Harvest Church (CHC) is her family, and she would never do anything illegal to put it at risk, said the church’s former finance manager yesterday.
Serina Wee, 38, categorically denied all 10 charges levelled against her. In an impassioned five-minute speech in court, she insisted church leaders had acted on the advice of lawyers and auditors.
“I felt assured that whatever that was done was above board and I trusted in Eng Han’s financial expertise,” she said, singling out CHC’s former investment manager Chew Eng Han.
They and four other people, who include the church’s founding pastor Kong Hee, are accused of misusing church monies to bankroll pop singer Ho Yeow Sun’s career.
They are charged with channelling $50 million from the church’s building fund into sham bond investments and then covering up the misuse.
Yesterday, after Wee’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Ma-niam, wrapped up his examination of his client, he asked if she had anything to add. That was when Wee turned to the judge and launched into her speech. In a trembling voice, she spoke of how it had been her dream to “become a church staff and serve God full-time”.
“I’m not a pastor, I’m not a preacher, but there’s one thing that I really enjoy doing, and I thought that I could do reasonably well, is to do accounts,” said Wee, who started working at CHC in 1999 as an accountant.
She said she could never imagine that CHC leaders would do anything illegal to harm the church. “It never crossed my mind that whatever… we were doing could possibly be violating the law,” said Wee.
She admitted it was the “vision of CHC” that left her in her current predicament.
Church leaders had hoped to use the Crossover Project to spread the Gospel through the music of Ms Ho, who is Kong’s wife. “But when I think about the many lives that were touched because of City Harvest, because of the Crossover, I’m just thankful that I had a part to play in it,” said Wee.
Towards the end, Wee, who has been calm since taking the stand on April 16, was seen dabbing her eyes with a piece of tissue paper.
The trial continues today.