City Harvest leader arrested at sea trying to flee Singapore in sampan, one day before jail term starts

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Former City Harvest Church fund manager Chew Eng Han was arrested this morning for trying to flee the country in a sampan. One of the six church leaders who was convicted of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds, Chew was supposed to turn himself in tomorrow to begin his jail term.

Chew was originally sentenced to six years in jail for criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in 2015. The High Court slashed his term to three years and four months last April – a decision that prosecutors challenged and the Court of Appeal upheld.

Chew was supposed to start his jail term on Apr last year but was granted a deferment so he could prepare for the apex court trial. Following that trial, which was held earlier this month, Chew asked to defer his sentence once more so he could spend Chinese New Year with his family.

Chew also tried to challenge his convictions on two occasions. Both attempts were unsuccessful.

When three Police Coast Guard boats intercepted the motorised sampan in the sea off Pulau Ubin around 8.47am this morning, Chew and another man who was piloting the sampan reportedly claimed that they were going fishing.

Preliminary police investigations showed, however, that the boat was headed towards Malaysia. The police also found about S$5,000 and fishing equipment on the boat.

The police, who were alerted to the sampan by a tip-off, arrested Chew and his companion, 53-year-old Tan Poh Teck. The pair reportedly did not resist arrest.

Chew is presently held in the police lock-up in Cantonment Complex. He will be charged in court tomorrow morning. If found guilty of leaving Singapore unlawfully, Chew and his friend could be jailed up to six months and fined S$2,000.

Both men may be jailed up to six months and fined S$2,000 if found guilty of leaving Singapore unlawfully.

Chew’s elder brother, 61-year-old Chew Eng Soon, was arrested this afternoon around 3.40pm for abetting the offence. If found guilty, he faces a maximum jail term of two years and/or a fine up to S$6,000.

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