Judge: Sun Ho’s music success was ‘inflated’
Based on performance of Sun Ho's previous albums, Judge See Kee Oon describes her perceived success as 'inflated'
The sales projection of Ms Ho Yeow Sun's planned US Crossover album of more that 200,000 copies was unrealistic and "no more than an optimistic hope".
Judge See Kee Oon said this yesterday in convicting six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders of criminal breach of trust or falsifying accounts involving $50 million.
He said: "I am unable to see how there can be any genuine or honest grounds for their claims that they expected far higher sales for her planned US album well in excess of the projection of 200,000 units."
Ms Ho, 43, who uses the stage name Sun Ho, is married to CHC founder Kong Hee, one of the six convicted. The church had planned to use her secular music to evangelise in what was called the Crossover Project.
The trial revealed that $24 million in church funds was misused to finance her music career and a further $26.6 million was used to conceal the earlier sum.
This was facilitated through music production firm Xtron Productions and glass manufacturer Firna.
Other details emerged on how the church leaders had projected selling 1.5 million copies of Ms Ho's English album and earning $10.5 million from it.
But that appeared impossible given the losses of her previous albums, said the judge.
He cited former finance manager Serina Wee as readily conceding that Ms Ho's Asian Crossover albums had lost money, leading to Xtron incurring substantial accumulated net losses.
In 2002, Ms Ho released her first Mandopop album, Sun With Love, and went on to release more Mandarin albums till 2007. Two of her Mandarin albums made losses of almost $1 million.
"I am unconvinced that they could have had a genuine belief in Sun Ho's prospects of success for the US Crossover given their consciousness that much of her earlier success was contrived and contributed to by CHC itself," said Judge See.
Between 2003 and 2010, Ms Ho was largely based in the US to pursue her music career. There, she released several singles in English, five of which made it to the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs.
But the judge said her perceived success was "inflated".
Xtron and the Crossover team had relied heavily on sponsorship from CHC members or supporters to boost Ms Ho's Mandarin album sales and promote her career.
"The mindset was thus that Xtron bond issues were only yet another temporary plan, albeit one which involved borrowing from CHC's building fund and hoping that the funds would somehow find their way back to CHC at some unspecified future point," said Judge See.
The US album was never released.
Yesterday, Ms Ho wrote on the church's Facebook page that while disappointed with the verdict, she and her husband were humbled by the tremendous outpouring of love and support shown to them.
"Thank you for your unwavering faithfulness in loving God and loving one another... We are not alone as many of our friends and churches around the world are also interceding fervently for us," she wrote.
I am unconvinced that they could have had a genuine belief in Sun Ho's prospects of success for the US Crossover given their consciousness that much of her earlier success was contrived and contributed to by CHC itself.
- Judge See Kee Oon