Friday, November 20, 2015
City Harvest trial: 21 months to 8 years' jail for leaders
POSTED: 20 Nov 2015 14:38UPDATED: 20 Nov 2015 16:25
(Left to right) Sharon Tan, Chew Eng Han, Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng,
John Lam and Serina Wee. (Photos: Ngau Kai Yan)
SINGAPORE: All six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders were sentenced to between 21 months and eight years' jail on Friday (Nov 20).
Senior pastor Kong Hee was sentenced to eight years in prison.
John Lam, former secretary of the church's management board, was sentenced to three years in prison.
Sharon Tan, former finance manager, was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Board member Chew Eng Han was sentenced to six years in prison.
Senior pastor Tan Ye Peng was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.
Serina Wee, former finance manager, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Bail for all six was extended, and the start of their sentence deferred until Jan 11 next year.
Judge See Kee Oon, in sentencing the leaders, said that Kong Hee was the most culpable, followed by Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, Serina Wee, and John Lam.
The six were found guilty on Oct 21 on all counts of criminal breach of trust, and falsification of accounts. They were in court on Friday for oral submissions.
The leaders set up sham bond investments to fund the Crossover Project, the church's attempt to reach out to non-Christians by propelling Kong Hee's wife, Ho Yeow Sun, to pop stardom. Sun Ho, as she is commonly known, was not in court on Friday.
In court, the defence argued that the co-accused were merely following orders and acting in the interests of the church, and thus their sentences should be calibrated.
The prosecution team consisting of DPPs Mavis Chionh, Tan Kiat Pheng, Christopher Ong, Joel Chen, Jeremy Yeo and Eugene Sng, submitted that "each of the accused persons played their respective roles in a conspiracy with intent to cause wrongful loss to CHC and to defraud the auditors".
"They did not merely wait passively for Kong Hee to instruct them to carry out each specific act and deception needed to drive the conspiracy forward. They took their own initiative to deceive and mislead the trusting members of CHC where necessary, and cannot escape responsibility for those acts," said the prosecution.
After hearing the submissions from both sides, Judge See passed the sentence at 3pm.
"For us ex-members, we'll leave it to the judge. We have to respect the Honour's decision. As what the prosecutor says, we need to do it right now because it will have a great repercussion on other mega churches on what and what cannot be done," said a man who identified himself as a former City Harvest member.
After the sentencing, Sharon Tan's lawyer Paul Seah said that he and his client "will look at the judge's comments" and decide what to do next.
Tan Ye Peng's lawyer N Sreenivasan said that it has been a "trying time" for his client and that Tan "needs to pray, reflect and discern".