Prosecution asking for stiffer jail terms for City Harvest leaders

CHC founder Kong Hee (right) arriving in court for the last day of the City Harvest Church appeal hearing. Photo: Sharlene Sankaran/Yahoo Singapore

The City Harvest Church (CHC) appeal hearing ended on Wednesday (21 September) with the prosecution pressing for stiffer jail terms for the six CHC leaders.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Christopher Ong told the panel of judges - Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Oon – that senior pastor Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, former committee member John Lam and former finance managers Sharon Tan and Serina Wee, were found guilty of misappropriating millions in church funds in October 2015.

The six were given jail terms of between 21 months and eight years by the lower court after they were found guilty on charges including criminal breach of trust  (CBT) and falsification of accounts. They were convicted of using $50 million from church funds to aid the pop music career of Kong’s wife, Sun Ho, under the church’s Crossover Project.

The prosecution asked for their jail terms to be increased significantly. DPP Ong urged the court to hand out jail terms of between 11 and 12 years for Kong, Tan Ye Peng, Chew and Wee.

CHC’s ex-finance manager Serina Wee arriving for the appeal hearing. Photo: Sharlene Sankaran/Yahoo Singapore

He also asked that Lam’s jail term be increased to between eight and nine years and for Sharon Tan to be jailed for between five and six years.

In his submissions, Ong pointed out that the six had not shown any remorse for their actions and disagreed with the point made by them that the Crossover Project was supported by a vast majority of church members.

“The offenders were placed in positions of trust by virtue of their positions in CHC. The offenders abused this trust in committing the offences and lying to cover them up,” he said.

Kong Hee’s deputy, Tan Ye Peng, arriving in court for the appeal hearing. Photo: Sharlene Sankaran/Yahoo Singapore

The defence argued that the church leaders had no intention of misappropriating the funds and were not acting dishonestly.

Chew, who is acting as his own lawyer, said that he did everything for the church and admitted that he was “biased” towards CHC.

“All we wanted to do is to help the church and not to cause it to lose money,” he added.

Judge of Appeal Chao said that the panel will consider the submissions by the prosecution and defence, and a decision will be made “as soon as possible”.