29 December 2012 09:00 | By Ang Kai Fong
Singapore's top newsmakers of 2012

Kong Hee and Sun Ho

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5. Kong Hee and Sun Ho

The already prominent City Harvest Church (CHC) came under renewed (and unwanted) spotlight in June after its charismatic founder Kong Hee and five key members were charged for allegedly misappropriating church funds.

In what's believed to be the largest financial scandal to hit Singapore's charity sector to date, the six were said to have diverted at least $24 million from the mega church’s building funds to finance Kong’s controversial pop-star wife Sun Ho’s career.

The shocking probe sparked a massive backlash against the charity and the well-known pair in no time, even as members of City Harvest’s congregation stood by the accused. Many of CHC’s followers continued to express their unwavering support for the church’s leadership, with some going as far as to raising funds for their legal expenses, which the Commissioner of Charities later restricted.

CHC has long been hounded by controversy over how it encourages members to donate as much as they can and also, how it may be using its church funds, with the “Crossover Project” at the heart of the probe. Many also took issue with Kong’s version of the “prosperity Gospel” – that one reaps what one sows, and up to a hundred-fold returns could be harvested.

Kong, who has maintained his integrity in the face of allegations, is believed to be travelling after the court granted his request to leave the country in end-July.

All six of the accused, charged with varying counts of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts, have earlier indicated that they are likely to plead not guilty and will claim trial.

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