City Harvest case: Church founder Kong Hee 'truly sorry' for unwise decisions

City Harvest case: Church founder Kong Hee 'truly sorry' for unwise decisions
Church founder Kong Hee
PHOTO: The Straits Times
W.T.M. Why This Matters
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee has issued an apology to his church and the public, while former finance manager Sharon Tan will start her reduced seven-month sentence on Apr 21, despite initially asking for a two-month deferment.

UPDATE - Five CHC leaders, including founder Kong Hee, have surrendered themselves at the State Courts to begin serving their jail terms on April 21.

According to reports online, Kong was the first to arrive at about 8.30am, followed by former CHC finance manager Sharon Tan and ex-finance comittee member John Lam. Former deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee turned up just after 9am.

The sixth CHC leader convicted, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, was granted a stay of execution on his sentence pending a Court of Appeal ruling on important questions of law that have arisen from the case.

City Harvest case: Kong Hee and 4 leaders surrender at State Courts to start jail terms


City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee has issued an apology to his church and the public, admitting that he had made "unwise decisions" in the past.

In a statement to the media last night, Kong said: "I have made unwise decisions in the past that have led me to where I am today. I am filled with grief and regret over my mistakes and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness."

He added that he has come to terms with it and is at peace, and will start serving his 3½-year sentence tomorrow.

On April 7, Kong and five other CHC leaders had their appeal allowed by the majority of the three-judge High Court bench, who had found them guilty of a less serious charge of criminal breach of trust (CBT).

While their convictions were upheld, their jail terms were slashed to between seven months and 3½ years.

Read also: Kong Hee's 'temporary' Sentosa Cove home remains unsold

Former CHC finance manager Sharon Tan will also start her reduced seven-month sentence tomorrow, despite initially asking for a two-month deferment.

Yesterday, in the High Court, the prosecution objected to it, calling her application a tactical move, but the panel of three High Court judges later granted her request.

Tan had asked for a two-month deferment to sort out personal matters as her husband and two children were relocating to the US.

City Harvest appeal: All six leaders get reduced sentences

Last Thursday, the prosecution filed a criminal reference with the Court of Appeal, raising questions of law of public interest, in a bid to reinstate their original sentences.

Yesterday, Tan's lawyer Paul Seah said her husband was now scheduled to move to the US earlier and that Tan had wanted to complete her jail term as soon as possible so she could join her family.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong objected, saying it was a tactical move by Tan. He said this could prejudice the outcome of the criminal application, as Tan could complete her sentence before judgment was passed.

She could be out in about five months on remission while the case before the apex court could take longer than six months.

But the three-judge panel rejected the prosecution's objection, saying Tan would ultimately have to serve a second stint in the event the Court of Appeal reinstated her original 21-month sentence.

Read also: Jail term cut for City Harvest church leader in pop music fraud case

SURRENDER

Mr Seah also said his client had agreed to remain in Singapore and had volunteered to surrender her passport if she completed her prison term before the judgment of the criminal application.

Tan will start her term tomorrow with Kong, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former CHC finance committee member John Lam and former CHC finance manager Serina Wee.

Earlier yesterday, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han was granted a stay of execution on his three-year-and-four-month sentence.

Chew said he will be raising questions of law of his own to overturn his guilty conviction. He said he needed to prepare his defence as he was not represented by a lawyer.

In 2015, the six were sentenced to jail terms of between 21 months and eight years for varying charges of CBT and falsification of accounts.

They were found guilty of misusing $24 million from the church's building fund to fuel the secular music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, as part of a church mission known as the Crossover Project. Later, a further $26 million was used to cover up the first sum.


This article was first published on April 20, 2017.
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