Ex-CHC leader Chew Eng Han caught leaving S'pore: Pair claimed they were going fishing

Ex-CHC leader Chew Eng Han caught leaving S'pore: Pair claimed they were going fishing
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean man convicted over a high-profile fraud case at a megachurch was caught Wednesday trying to flee in a boat before he was due to start his sentence, police said.

In a case that gripped the city-state with a heady mix of religion, showbiz and fraud, six leaders from City Harvest Church were convicted in 2015 of pilfering tens of millions of dollars from the place of worship to promote the pop career of the pastor's wife.

Among them was investment manager Chew Eng Han, who was sentenced to three years and four months but had his imprisonment delayed by a series of appeals.

After losing his final challenge, the 57-year-old was allowed to remain out of prison on bail until after the Lunar New Year holiday, and was meant to start serving his sentence on February 22.

But in the latest bizarre twist to the case, police caught Chew around 8:45 am (0045 GMT) in a small fishing boat off eastern Singapore allegedly attempting to flee to Malaysia.

Ex-CHC leader Chew Eng Han tried to flee Singapore: Other criminals who did the same

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    Other suspects and criminals who have fled Singapore include Wilson Raj, 'One-eyed dragon' Tan Chor Jin and Mas Selamat.

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    Former City Harvest Church fund manager Chew Eng Han was nabbed at sea on Wednesday morning (Feb 21) allegedly trying to flee Singapore on a motorised sampan.

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    Former City Harvest Church fund manager Chew Eng Han was nabbed at sea on Wednesday morning (Feb 21) allegedly trying to flee Singapore on a motorised sampan.

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    The 57-year-old had been convicted of misusing church funds and was due to start his jail term of three years and four months on Thursday (Feb 22).

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    He was caught in a motorised sampan (above) while trying to flee Singapore, on Feb 21, 2018.

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    Fishing gear, handphones and cash were among the items confiscated by the police.

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    The jetty at Pulau Ubin, where Chew Eng Han was picked up by the motorised sampan.

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    Police officers indicating the spot, about 2.4km away from the Pulau Ubin Jetty, where the Coast Guard picked up Chew Eng Han on Feb 21, 2018.

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    Here are others who've tried to flee:

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    CANADIAN DAVID JAMES ROACH: He was suspected of robbing a Standard Chartered Bank branch of $30,000 in 2016, fled to Bangkok but was arrested three days later. Media reports said Roach was being deported from Bangkok to Canada and in transit in London when he was arrested on Jan 11. His extradition from Britain is being sought by Singapore.

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    FORMER LAWYER DAVID RASIF: He disappeared in June 2006 with $11.3 million of clients' money. He was last seen in Bangkok, Thailand.

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    MATCH FIXER WILSON RAJ PERUMAL: A convicted match fixer, he jumped bail in Singapore in 2010 over an assault charge, but was arrested in Finland in 2011 for match-fixing. He is now a prosecution witness in Hungary's match-fixing trials.

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    FORMER CABBY NEO SOON JOO: He masterminded the 2008 kidnapping of a 60-year-old woman, her two-year-old grand-daughter and their 23-year-old maid by holding them at knife-point. Neo's accomplice drove them to a bank in Hougang where the older woman withdrew $50,000 and gave it to Neo. The accomplice also helped Neo flee to Malaysia.

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    LAWYER DAVID KHONG SIAK MENG: He was wanted by Singapore for criminal breach of trust and ran away with $68,000 of clients' money in August 2007.

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    FORMER FINANCIAL ADVISER MICHAEL MCCREA: He was wanted for the murder of his chauffeur Kho Nai Guan and Mr Kho's girlfriend, Chinese national Lan Ya Ming, in January 2002. He fled to London then Melbourne, and he was extradited to Singapore after 3 years and charged with 2 counts of murder. But these were later reduced to culpable homicide, and he was jailed for 24 years.

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    ONE-EYED DRAGON TAN CHOR JIN: On Feb 15, 2006, Tan Chor Jin, known as the One-Eyed Dragon as he was blind in his right eye, shot and killed nightclub owner Lim Hock Soon's in his flat in Serangoon. He also robbed his family. Later that morning, Tan made his way across the Causeway. He was arrested by the Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur 10 days later and sent back to Singapore.

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    FORMER NKF CHAIRMAN RICHARD YONG: He was one of four ex-National Kidney Foundation (NKF) board members sued by its new leadership in January 2007 for failing in their duties to the charity. He was convicted but failed to pay damages and was declared a bankrupt. Yong skipped town to go to Malaysia with his wife without the approval of the Official Assignee. They later went to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong police arrested Yong in July the same year and he was repatriated to Singapore.

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    TERRORIST MAS SELAMAT KASTARI: In 2008, Mas Selamat Kastari, the head of Singapore's branch of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiah, escaped from an unsecured toilet ventilation window at Whitley Road Detention Centre. He was arrested more than a year later by the Malaysian Special Branch in a village in Johor and was handed over by the Malaysian authorities to Singapore in 2010.

He was with a second man who was piloting the craft.

"Preliminary investigations suggest that the duo were attempting to depart Singapore illegally," said a police statement.

The men were carrying $5,000 in cash, three mobile phones and fishing gear. A source close to the investigation told AFP that when approached, the pair claimed they were going fishing.

They will be charged in court on Thursday and are accused of attempting to leave Singapore unlawfully, an offence that carries a maximum six-month jail term and fine of $2,000.

The church leaders were convicted of using $24 million from a church building fund to help advance the music career of the pastor's wife Ho, and were also found guilty of misappropriating huge sums as they scrambled to cover their tracks.

Pastor Kong Hee was initially sentenced to eight years but his term was cut to three and half years in 2017 by the High Court on a technicality, sparking a storm of criticism.

An appeal court this month upheld the decision to reduce his sentence.

 

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