Wednesday, 23 September 2015

City Harvest Church Finale

Update 21 Oct 2015: 6 leaders found guilty on all charges, out on bail

All six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders facing charges including criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts were found guilty on all counts on Wednesday (Oct 21).

Following the judgment, the church said all six are now taking legal advice, with some of their lawyers suggesting their clients may appeal the sentence. All have been released on bail of between S$750,000 and S$1 million, though overseas travel is not permitted.

Sentencing will take place at a later date, with the court due to hear submissions from defence and prosecution lawyers from Nov 6 to 20.

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Defense Team Sums Up Case At Oral Submissions

The accused parties’ state of mind and their reliance on the advice of professionals, as well as weaknesses in the prosecution’s case made up key points of the defense at today’s oral submissions. The oral submissions of the defense team - which follow written submissions given to the court - took place this morning. Each defense counsel presented the key points of his case to the court.

Senior counsel Kenneth Tan, defense lawyer for John Lam, stated that the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the bonds were sham in nature and that his client knew of the sham nature and agreed to the conspiracy—he pointed out that there had been no direct evidence pointing to his client’s knowledge of the sham nature of the bonds. All the prosecution could rely on, Tan emphasized, was its own inferences that Lam knew about the plans.

At the inception of the first Xtron bonds, Tan pointed out, Lam was not involved in the structuring of the bonds and was not included in the correspondences that discussed the repayment plans. Lam’s evidence was that the bonds would be repaid with the proceeds from Sun Ho’s music album and that Wahju Hanafi would underwrite any losses incurred by the Crossover Project. While the prosecution argued that it was naïve to think that the proceeds can repay the bonds and that Hanafi would sponsor the whole project, Tan said in court that the prosecution could not infer that Lam knew that the bonds could not be repaid.

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Defence vs Prosecution: Closing oral submissions as City Harvest Church trial reached 140th day finale

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh did not mince her words in her closing oral submissions on Sept. 14, 2015, for the long-running City Harvest Church trial.

She not only questioned their credibility, but also pointed out their sophistication and slammed each of the six co-accused for distancing themselves from their alleged crimes.

The six accused are: Kong Hee, 50; Tan Ye Peng, 42; Serina Wee, 38; Sharon Tan, 39; John Lam, 47 and Chew Eng Han, 54.

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Both senior pastors 'are liars and lack credibility'
Church founder Kong Hee (above) and Tan Ye Peng, both pastors, maintain that they acted on the advice of experts, including auditors, lawyers and church investment officers, for decisions on the bonds.ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN

The two most senior leaders of City Harvest Church (CHC) are liars and men without credibility, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh yesterday as she highlighted the contradictions in evidence given by pastors Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng.

In her closing oral submissions for the long-running trial, Ms Chionh slammed each of the six co-accused's efforts to distance themselves from the alleged crime.

Kong, 50; Tan, 42; and four others are accused of misappropriating $24 million in CHC's building funds through sham bond investments in music production firm Xtron and glass maker Firna, and of misusing a further $26 million to cover it up.

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City Harvest Church not run by ‘bumbling amateurs’ with no financial experience: Prosecutor
File photo of Sun Ho and Kong Hee arriving at State Court. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

On the penultimate day of what is set to be a 140-day trial, the prosecution sought to rebuff the closing arguments of six church leaders delivered last Thursday, calling into question each accused’s credibility by highlighting “the fundamental flaws” in each of their cases.

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing S$24 million of church funds to finance the Crossover Project, the church's way of evangelising people through the secular music career of Sun Ho, who is Kong’s wife.

Another S$26.6 million was used to cover up the amount, allegedly through sham bond investments in music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, which are owned by CHC supporters.

related: City Harvest Church verdict to be delivered on Oct 21

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The two faces of Kong Hee

THE first time I met Kong Hee was in 2009. I was brought to him backstage after a Christmas concert put up by the church and introduced to him as a reporter. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. After he heard I had studied in New York on a scholarship, he offered me a job. I declined. He was shuffled away by a bodyguard in a suit into his dressing room.

Our encounter was over in less than a minute. That was my first impression of him. Not the God-fearing pastor, nor the doting husband and father, but a man who took chances, and quickly moved on when told no.

Today is the last day of closing arguments for the trial. As Kong Hee’s lawyers gave their final oral submissions, the case against him that has lasted almost three years since his arrest in 2012 will renew speculation of his fate. Will he walk free, or go to jail? If convicted, he could face a lifetime behind bars. As a free man, he will face the rest of his life in infamy. Either way, life for him will never quite be the same.

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City Harvest Church verdict to be delivered on Oct 21

The 140-day trial of six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, including founder and senior pastor Kong Hee and his deputy Tan Ye Peng, came to a close on Tuesday (Sep 15), with lawyers for the accused making final submissions to the court to prove their clients' innocence.

The defence reiterated that the accused carried out their actions in order "to do God's work" and for "the right purposes".

The six are on trial for allegedly misusing S$24 million of church funds to finance the Crossover Project, the church's way of evangelising people through the secular music career of Sun Ho, who is Kong’s wife.

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City Harvest's most senior pastors 'are liars'

'WELL-PRACTISED LIAR': Kong has maintained that he was acting on the advice of auditors and lawyers. THE two most senior leaders of City Harvest Church (CHC) are liars and men without credibility, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh yesterday as she attacked the contradictions in evidence given by senior pastors Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng.

In her closing oral submissions for the long-running City Harvest trial, Ms Chionh went on the offensive, slamming each of the six co-accused's efforts to distance themselves from the alleged crime.

Kong, 50, Tan, 42, and four others are accused of misappropriating $24 million in CHC's building funds through sham bond investments in music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, and of allegedly misusing a further $26 million to cover it up.

related: City Harvest Trial

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City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee puts Sentosa Cove home for sale for $10m
City Harvest Church founder and co-owner paid $9.33m for luxury duplex unit in 2007

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee has put his luxurious penthouse family home in Sentosa Cove up for sale.

He and a co-owner are asking a cool $10 million for the duplex unit, more than the $9.33 million they paid in 2007.

Kong and five others are alleged to have misused $50 million of church funds and then falsified church accounts to cover up the misuse. They are accused of funnelling millions from the church's building fund to pay for the Crossover Project, to boost the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun.

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