City Harvest accused, prosecution file appeals

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee.

The marathon City Harvest Church (CHC) case has entered its final chapter, with the prosecution and all six defendants officially filing their petitions of appeal.

Parties confirmed with The Straits Times that they had filed their petitions. The deadline was 5pm yesterday.

An appeal date has not yet been set but it will likely take place before the end of the year.

Last October, the six accused were found guilty of misusing some $50 million in church funds.

The funds were used to further the music career of pastor-singer Ho Yeow Sun, the wife of church founder Kong Hee. This was done by funnelling $24 million into sham bonds to bankroll Ms Ho's career. The accused then misused a further $26 million to cover their tracks.

Apart from Kong, the other five accused are - deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43; former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 55; former CHC finance managers Serina Wee, 39, and Sharon Tan, 40; and former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 47.

All six drew jail terms of between 21 months and eight years. Kong, 51, got the heaviest sentence as the mastermind of Singapore's largest charity financial scandal.

Near the end of last year, both the defence and prosecution filed notices of appeal, which is an indication to the court that they intended to appeal.

The prosecution called the sentences imposed on the six accused "manifestly inadequate", and wanted harsher punishment to deter such crimes.

It asked the court for sentences ranging from five to 12 years.

"The prosecution will be proceeding with the appeal against the sentences imposed on the six accused persons, and we have accordingly filed our Petition of Appeal on Jan 15," a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said yesterday.

The defendants or their lawyers arrived separately in court yesterday to file their appeals against both their guilty verdicts and sentences.

Bail for all six has been extended pending the appeal. They previously posted bail of between $750,000 and $1.5 million.

Kong had previously said that while he respected the court's decision, he was appealing because "there are points which appear to be erroneous and warrant appeal".

Meanwhile, Chew said he is "positive" when asked about his chances - he is facing six years in prison, the second-highest sentence.

All parties are waiting for an appeal date to be set by the High Court.

Lam's lawyer, Mr Nicholas Narayanan, said: "We have received no indication as to when the appeal hearing will take place."

This article was first published on January 19, 2016.
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