Former City Harvest Church fund manager Chew Eng Han was charged in court this morning after he was arrested yesterday for trying to flee the country in a motorised sampan. He faces one charge under the Immigration Act of leaving Singapore unlawfully at an unauthorised point of departure – a charge that could result in a maximum six months’ jail term and a fine of up to S$2,000.
One of the six church leaders who was involved in Singapore’s largest fraud involving charitable funds and one of the six who was convicted of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds, Chew had been out on bail of S$1 million. He was supposed to have turned himself in today to begin his jail term of three years and four months.
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.
He also tried to challenge his convictions on two occasions. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan argued that Chew’s bail should be revoked, and a district judge ordered the remand of Chew and the man who was arrested piloting the sampan, Tan Poh Teck, for one week to assist in investigations.
Chew’s lawyer, Jonathan Phipps, pointed out that Chew’s family only found out about his arrest from media reports. He added that Chew’s family is upset that the police did not inform them of Chew’s arrest.
Both Chew and Tan will next appear in court on 1 Mar.
Tan could be sentenced to a maximum jail term of two years and fined up to S$6,000 for abetting the offence
Chew’s elder brother, 61-year-old Chew Eng Soon, was arrested yesterday around 3.40pm for abetting the offence. He is still in police custody and is yet to be charged.