Pastor used church funds to finance wife’s music career

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and four others, including former board members, have been arrested following a probe into financial irregularities of the church by both the police and the Commissioner of Charities (CoC).

Among other things, CoC found financial irregularities of at least S$23mil (RM57mil) from the church funds.

Its spokesman said the funds were used with the purported intention to finance the wife of pastor Kong, Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.

“There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders,” said a CoC spokesman.

The police named the five: Kong, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former board member John Lam Leng Hung, church investment manager Chew Eng Han and church finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen.

On May 31, 2010, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) started an investigation into certain financial transactions of CHC after receiving information of misuse of CHC funds.

A police spokesman said that after a thorough investigation, the five would be charged with being in a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust (CBT) as an agent. Each of them faces lifetime jail and a fine.

Ye Peng, Chew and Sharon will also be charged with conspiracy to falsify accounts. Each could be jailed up to 10 years and fined.

All five will be charged in court today.

CoC launched an inquiry into the church on May 31, 2010, under the Charities Act.

Its inquiry revealed misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the church, particularly in relation to the funds that were in the Building Fund which had been raised and earmarked for specific purposes.

The CoC spokesman said: “The COC is concerned about the misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the Charity.”

With immediate effect, it has suspended the five – along with three others, from holding any post on the church board of management.

The three are: executive members Ho Yeow Sun, Kelvin Teo Meng How and Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline. They will be prohibited from taking part or being involved in managing the church, representing it in any matter, or attending any of its Annual General Meetings, Extraordinary General Meetings and Board meetings.

The CoC spokesman added that it would also consider taking further courses of action under the Charities Act against these individuals in order to protect the charitable property of the Charity.

“These may include the removal of these persons from their office as trustee, governing board members, officers, agents or employees of the Charity.”

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Home Affairs Minister, has weighed in on the arrests of the five senior members of the CHC, following a CAD investigation into financial irregularities at the church.

Teo said: “I would like to stress that the charges filed by CAD are against five individuals from CHC regarding the use of Church funds. They are not filed against CHC itself. CHC is free to continue its church services and activities.”

He said CAD would carry out investigations upon receiving information that a criminal offence might have been committed, and it had previously also investigated the National Kidney Foundation and Ren Ci. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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