City Harvest Church (CHC), in a FAQ released for its church members following the conviction of its 6 leaders, pointed out that their legal fees could cost up to $15 million and said that individual members are not legally restrained from supporting them.
City Harvest Church founder, Kong Hee, and five of his church members’ sentences were reduced by the High Court. The court meted out the following sentences after a five-day appeal hearing in September 2016:
Kong Hee – 8 years to 3.5 years
Serina Wee – 5 years to 2.5 years
Tan Ye Peng – 5.5 years to 3 years and 2 months
Chew Eng Han – 6 years to 3 years and 4 months
John Lam – 3 years to 1.5 years
Sharon Tan – 21 months to 7 months.
The sensational case – which is Singapore’s largest charity scandal – involves misappropriating $50 million of church funds. After a lengthy trial in 2015, the High Court found the six leaders guilty of using $24 million belonging to the Church to fund the music career of Sun Ho. To cover up their tracks, they used another $26 million.
The High Court judge ruled that they were “effectively putting CHC’s funds into their own hands to use as needed” despite being “not authorised”. The High Court however decided to reduce their charge from one of aggravated form of criminal breach of trust (CBT) to a “simple” form of CBT.
2 out 3 judges thought the prosecution had not satisfied the requirements to prove the aggravated form of CBT, which the law states the person must be a public servant, or a banker, a merchant, a factor, a broker, an attorney or an agent, when committing the crime.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) filed a Criminal Reference on 10 April, to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The AGC further said that it intends to request that the Court of Appeal to exercise its powers to reinstate the convicts’ original sentences.