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Kong Hee, Five Former CHC Leaders Permanently Banned from Managing Charities

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and the other five former leaders of the church have been permanently restricted from managing or holding positions of leadership in any charity.
Kong Hee started serving his jail term of three years and six months last April 21. AP Photo

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and the other five former leaders of the church have been permanently restricted from managing any charity.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) of Singapore announced on Wednesday that the six convicted CHC leaders will no longer be allowed to have control over any charity because of the "dishonesty and deception" involved in the charges they were convicted of.

"It is a pertinent consideration that the offences (they) were convicted of, namely criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts, involve dishonesty and/or deception," MCCY said in a statement, according to Channel News Asia.  

This also means none of them will no longer be allowed to hold positions of leadership in a charity, MCCY explained. Under the Charities Act, this permanent disqualification has the same effect as a "removal order."

This move would allow the protection of "the charitable assets of the charity from the six convicted individuals, since they can no longer hold any governance or management positions in the charity," MCCY said, according to the Straits Times.

In November 2015, Kong, John Lam, Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, Sharon Tan and Serina Wee were convicted of misappropriating S$50 million from the funds of City Harvest Church in what is considered as Singapore's biggest case of misappropriation of charitable funds.

Kong and the five persons involved funnelled S$24 million into sham bonds to help advance the career of Kong's wife and CHC co-founder Sun Ho. The money was used in the controversial Crossover Project, which was supposed to be an initiative through which the gospel can be preached to other places.

Justice Chan Seng Onn, one of three judges who heard the case called the project a "very extravagant" way of spreading the gospel.

The six former CHC leaders then used S$26 million to cover up the traces of the misappropriated funds.

In November 2015, the court sentenced Kong to eight years in prison, giving him the longest sentence among all six. However, after they filed an appeal, the court reduced his sentence to three years and six months.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the case is not yet over, explaing that the trial did not touch the subject of "any gain to third parties for its case on conviction and sentence, even though this may have been suggested in the charges."

The third party being referred to is Kong's wife Sun Ho, who was not involved in the trial.

Chao Hack Tin, Judge of Appeal, shares the same sentiment as Shanmugam.

"While the Prosecution did, in its oral submissions before us, attempt to make the point that a benefit had accrued to Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho, this point was not raised in its written submissions for the appeal and was also not raised before the Judge," he said.

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