SINGAPORE: Five senior members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including its founder Kong Hee, were charged in court on Wednesday with misappropriating church funds.
The prosecution is levelling three charges against the five —— involving a sum of S$24 million allegedly transferred from the church’s Building Fund to two companies and another S$26.6 million allegedly used to cover their tracks.
This is more than the S$23 million earlier announced by the Commissioner of Charities.
The first charge centres on purported bond investments made by the church in two companies, Xtron Productions and PT The First National Glassware.
These bond investments, which the prosecution said are "sham transactions", were allegedly devised to conceal the diversion of some S$24 million from the church’s Building Fund to fund Ho Yeow Sun’s music career. Ho is Kong Hee’s wife.
Four people are liable for the first charge —— Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Lam Leng Hung and Chew Eng Han.
The second charge relates to a series of transactions that some of the accused had created to clear the purported bond investments off the church’s accounts.
They allegedly misappropriated a further S$26.6 million from the church’s funds.
The money was said to have circulated through a complicated series of transactions to create the false appearance that the purported sham bond investments had been redeemed.
For these charges, which have been termed as "round—tripping", three people are liable —— Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon.
The third charge relates to the falsification of church’s accounts to cover their tracks.
Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon were alleged to have doctored the church’s books to give the false appearance that the bond investments had been redeemed.
In all, pastor and church founder Kong Hee faces three charges; senior pastor Tan Ye Peng faces 10 charges; finance manager Tan Shao Yuen Sharon faces seven charges; senior member Chew Eng Han faces 10 charges; and former secretary of the church’s management board Lam Leng Hung faces three charges.
All five church members stood solemnly together in the dock when the charges were read to them on Wednesday.
The five have each posted bail of S$500,000 and have had their passports impounded.
Earlier in the morning, a media scrum broke out when Kong Hee and his wife, local songstress Sun Ho, arrived outside the Subordinate Courts.
Supporters belonging to City Harvest Church were also gathered outside the court. Some were there as early as 7.30am and their numbers swelled to over a hundred within an hour.
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