City Harvest verdict: AGC applies to take case to Court of Appeal

City Harvest verdict: AGC applies to take case to Court of Appeal
PHOTO: The New Paper

SINGAPORE - The prosecution in the City Harvest Church (CHC) case has filed a Criminal Reference today to the Court of Appeal.

A statement from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said: "Having carefully considered the written grounds, the Prosecution is of the view that there are questions of law of public interest that have arisen out of the High Court's decision, including and in particular, whether a director or a member of the governing body of a company or organisation who is entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, is so entrusted in the way of his business as an agent for the purposes of section 409 of the Penal Code."

"The Prosecution has accordingly filed a Criminal Reference today, to refer these questions of law to the Court of Appeal."

Last Friday (April 7), all six church leaders in the largest case of misuse of charitable funds in Singapore's history had their sentences slashed by a three-judge High Court panel, despite the prosecution's appeal for longer jail terms.

Their original jail terms, ranging from 21 months to eight years, were cut, in some cases by over half.

The 52-year-old church founder Kong Hee had his eight-year term cut to 3.5 years, while former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 56, had his six years reduced to three years and four months.

Tan Ye Peng, 44, had his 5.5 years in jail cut to three years and two months while former finance manager Serina Wee, 40, had her five-year jail term halved to 2.5 years.

The three-year sentence of former finance committee member John Lam, 49, was also halved. Former finance manager Sharon Tan, 41, will be jailed for seven months instead of 21 months.

The High Court's decision was weighted on the ruling that directors are not agents under the more serious Section 409 of the Penal Code dealing with criminal breach of trust. The bench majority replaced the offence with basic criminal breach of trust, resulting in lighter sentences. 

The statement added: "If the Court of Appeal answers the questions referred in accordance with the Prosecution's submissions, the Prosecution intends to request that the Court of Appeal exercises its powers under section 397(5) to reinstate the appellants' original convictions under section 409 of the Penal Code and make necessary and consequential orders in relation to the sentences given."

City Harvest appeal: All six leaders get reduced sentences

On Saturday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had said the decision to cut the jail terms of the six convicted could have serious implications for corruption cases.

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