Ho Yeow Sun, co-founder of Singapore-based City Harvest Church and wife of pastor Kong Hee, revealed their family is going through a difficult time after the High Court on Friday handed down the jail terms for Kong and five other leaders of the church.
"Keep my family in prayer," she told Asia One. "It's a difficult time for us."
Kong was convicted of three charges of criminal breach of trust. Last year, the court found him and the five other CHC leaders guilty of misappropriating church funds amounting to S$50 million or about US$8 million. Kong was sentenced to eight years in jail, but after filing an appeal, his jail term was reduced to three years and six months.
Kong and the team were said to have funnelled S$24 million into sham bonds to further the music career of Kong's wife Sun Ho through what the church called Crossover Project, which was supposedly an avenue by which the gospel could be preached. They used another S$26 million to cover traces of the misappropriated funds.
Justice Chan Seng Onn, one of three judges who heard the case, said the Crossover Project was a "very extravagant" means of spreading the gospel. The case involved the largest amount of charity funds that had been misappropriated in Singapore. Sun Ho herself was caught in controversy when a number of her racy music videos raised some eyebrows.
Involved in the case were former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, who was sentenced to three years and four months in jail; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, who was sentenced to three years and two months; former CHC finance manager Serina Wee, who was sentenced to two years and six months; former CHC finance committee member John Lam, who was sentenced to one year and six months; and former CHC finance manager Sharon Tan, who was sentenced to seven months.
Kong said Friday that he was grateful his sentence was reduced.
"While the conviction being upheld is not what I have hoped for, I am grateful that the sentence has been reduced," he said on a post to Facebook. "Once again, thank you so much for all the love you have given to me and my family."
On Sunday, Kong was greeted by a loud cheer as he went onstage. He asked the church for forgiveness for "all the hurt, all the disappointment and all the painful ordeals" it had gone through because of the trial.
"I really, really, really wish that I was and am a better, wiser leader," he said, according to Straits Times. "Pastor is deeply sorry and sincerely asks for your forgiveness. Please forgive me."
The Singaporean government said the CHC case is "not over yet" and that it will seek counsel from the Attorney General's Chambers. Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said the outcome of the CHC trial could have "serious implications" on other cases involving corruption and on the government's "zero-tolerance approach," according to Today.
One of the issues that may be brought up was the fact that during the trial, the prosecution did not focus on "any gain to third parties for its case on conviction and sentence, even though this may have been suggested in the charges."
Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin agrees.
"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.