City Harvest Church 'deeply saddened' by appeal verdict

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee (right) leaving the Supreme Court building after the verdict in the CHC appeal was announced on 7 April 2017. (Photo: Don Wong/Yahoo Singapore)

City Harvest Church (CHC) said on Friday afternoon (7 April) it is “deeply saddened” by the appeal verdict of the High Court Judges in relation to its leaders who were embroiled in a seven-year financial scandal.

In a statement posted on its website, CHC added, however, that it is “thankful” for the shorter terms imposed on its founder Kong Hee, 52, Deputy Senior Pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43, former board member John Lam, 48, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56, former finance manager Serina Wee, 39, and former finance manager Sharon Tan, 41.

Earlier this morning, the High Court reduced the jail terms of all six leaders following an appeal hearing, which lasted less than an hour. The leaders were convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in October 2015 after they were accused of misappropriating millions in church funds to finance the music career of Kong’s wife, Sun Ho.

Kong, whom the judges said had the “greatest” culpability, had his eight-year jail term cut to three years and six months.

Tan Ye Peng’s jail term was reduced to three years and two months from five years and six months; Lam to one year and six months from three years; Chew to three years and four months from six years; Wee to two years and six months from five years; and Sharon Tan to seven months from 21 months.

Said CHC in its statement, “It has been a seven-year journey for City Harvest Church. In the Bible, the seventh year is a time of Sabbath, a time of release and rest. It has been a hard journey that all of you have taken with the leadership—through it all, we have learned many lessons, the most precious of which is to trust God with our whole lives.”

The church also thanked the congregation for seven years of “ceaseless prayer and uncompromising faith”.

“Let’s come together this weekend to worship God. Let’s also hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful,” said CHC.

Separately, Kong said in a post on his Facebook page that he is “very thankful” for the support and prayers for the CHC leaders and their families.

“While the conviction being upheld is not what I have hoped for, I am grateful that the sentence has been reduced. Once again, thank you so much for all the love you have given to me and my family,” Kong added.