Slava Novorossiya

Slava Novorossiya

Friday, October 21, 2016

City Harvest Church Corruption Case

The City Harvest Church Corruption Case is the biggest corruption case in Singapore since the beginning of the 21st century, revolving around City Harvest Church and several founders especially Kong Hee. The total amount of funds mis-use is around S$50 million.

Misuse of City Harvest Church funds

On 31 May 2010, the Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police announced that 17 individuals linked to the City Harvest Church, including church founder Pastor Kong Hee and his deputy, Pastor Tan Ye Peng, were under investigation after complaints alleging the misuse of church funds. The joint press statement stressed that the investigations are neither linked nor initiated from its acquisition of a stake in the Suntec Convention Centre The police also visited the offices and homes of these individuals and brought back computers and financial records for investigations. The police were looking into some financial transactions among these individuals and related companies, involving the possible falsification of accounts and criminal breach of trust amounting to millions of dollars which dated back a number of years. The authorities said that regular church activities and services for the congregation need not be disrupted during ongoing investigations, which was expected then to take several months.

The investigation followed requests by church members for the COC to review the church's constitution, which denied ordinary members the chance to attend general meetings, or be privy to its annual reports and financial statements. Some members felt that the church board had utilised the church's building fund and committed it to "future liabilities" without consulting members at its latest AGM.

S$50 million, 6 arrests

In June 2012, Kong Hee and four other members of the church were arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force. Charges were filed against the five individuals and not the church itself, which would be allowed to continue its services and activities. They were released on $500,000 bail each. In July, charges were brought on one additional former finance director with the last of the pre-trial conferences is set for 22 November. When the trial started on 15 May 2012, some Christians expressed concern that the slow pace of the trial may have a negative impact on public opinion.

On the same day as the initial arrests, the COC released a press statement detailing the results of its inquiry stating there were misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity. There were irregularities of at least $23 million in the charity's funds, which were used to finance Sun Ho's secular music career. There was also a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from stakeholders. Eight members including the five arrested such as Chew Eng Han and Sharon Tan, Sun Ho and two others were suspended from their duties with the charity while the COC considered further course of action under the Charities Act. $24 million was taken from church building funds and put into sham investment bonds in Ho's artist management firm Xtron Productions and glass maker Firna. After church auditors raised questions about the bond investments, an additional $26.6 million was moved around to "create the false appearance that the purported sham bond investments had been redeemed" in what the accounting industry calls "round-tripping". The church stood by the five accused, stated that money for the investment bonds were returned to the church in full, with interest, and it did not lose any funds in the transactions, indicating that the accused "always put God and CHC first. "

Relevations were made about a multi-purpose account (MPA) involving Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho set up in 2006 and closed in 2010, made up of "love gifts" worth $2,888,334 from church members as well as $359,530 from an Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi. The Commissioner of Charities warned the church and its employees against raising funds for legal expenses, the church was also restricted from paying the legal fees of the 6 accused. The chief prosecution led by Mavis Chionh noted the absence of a crucial board meeting between August and September 2008 as being without any meeting minutes, and also charged that Wahju Hanafi was the other beneficiary of funds allegedly diverted from City Harvest Church to further Sun Ho's music career.


In October 2015, all six accused were found guilty of all criminal breach of trust charges pertaining to 409 read with section 109 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. Falsification of Accounts under section 477A of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. Alongside the conviction, other pastors and christians began speaking out regarding the trial which was the second longest in Singapore history.

Serina Wee, former finance manager of CHC, was found guilty of 6 counts of criminal breach of trust and 4 counts of falsifying the church's accounts. The prosecutor labelled her as the most inextricably involved in the conspiracy due to her role as administrator of the Crossover project.

Sharon Tan, former finance manager of CHC, was found guilty of 3 counts of criminal breach of trust and 4 counts of falsifying the church's accounts. The prosecutor noted her defense was deeply cynical and self-seriving, attempting to minimise her involvement in the offences.

Chew Eng Han, CHC board member, was found guilty of 6 counts of criminal breach of trust and 4 counts of falsifying church accounts. The prosecutor noted that his defense was incoherent while lacking credibility.

Tan Ye Peng, founding member and senior pastor of CHC, was found guilty of 6 counts of criminal breach of trust and 4 counts of falsifying the church's accounts.

John Lam, former secretary of the church's management board, was found guilty of 3 counts of criminal breach of trust. The prosecutor noted that he was the inside man in church governance and oversaw bodies that prevented the sham investment bonds from being discovered.

Kong Hee, senior pastor and founder of the church, was found guilty of 3 counts of criminal breach of trust. The prosecutor noted that he was had not maintained a consistent position on critical factual issues.

The 6 accused, and even the Prosecution, have all filed appeals on their conviction, with the prosecution calling the current sentences "manifestly inadequate". The appeals will be heard over 5 days,Sep 19 to Sep 23 of 2016.

In July 2016, Chew filed a new police report against 8 members of the church (including Kong Hee and Sun Ho). Chew alleged that this was for "fraudulent misrepresentation of vital facts about the church which induced me and other members to give our donations", and also for use of funds for purposes other than what was represented to the members of the church.

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