City Harvest Church founder faces the music

SINGAPORE - Alleged fake donations, tithe transfers and a hidden private fund.

A more than two-year inquiry into City Harvest Church (CHC) has uncovered financial irregularities of at least $23 million, with funds going to support the music career of Ho Yeow Sun, wife of CHC founder Kong Hee.

Five people including Mr Kong were arrested yesterday and will be charged in court today, said the police yesterday.

Ms Ho has not been charged but she is among eight people suspended by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) from holding any job or office at CHC.

COC started its probe on May 31, 2010 and unearthed financial irregularities which took place from 2007 to 2010.

At the heart of it all was a "crossover" project, aimed at using Ms Ho's secular music to connect with people and reach out to non-Christians.

"COC's inquiry revealed misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity, particularly in relation to the funds that were in the building fund," COC said in a statement.

The building fund is meant for the purchase of properties for CHC, for renovation, hall rental and other building-related expenses.

Funds were used to finance Ms Ho's music career and "there was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders".

Unknown to executive members, CHC's funds were going towards the project. Between December 2007 and May 2010, at least $2.1 million was transferred from CHC to an affiliated church, City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur (CHCKL), under the guise of donations. CHCKL then transferred the funds to support the project in the United States.

There were also transfers of donations and tithes to CHC to a private fund known as the multi-purpose account (MPA), administered by the charity's ex-finance manager Serina Wee and the former personal assistant to Mr Kong, Jacqueline Tan.

Monies from the MPA then went to the project.

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