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Court to rule on City Harvest Church leaders' appeal

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  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    80,937 posts since Feb '08
    • City Harvest Church leaders to return to court for appeal

       

    • Court to rule on City Harvest Church leaders' appeal next Friday

      SINGAPORE: The High Court will deliver a verdict on an appeal by leaders of City Harvest Church next Friday (Apr 7).

      The six church leaders were sentenced to jail terms of between 21 months and 8 years in November 2015 for misusing S$50 million of church funds – the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore. The money was used to bankroll the secular music career of church founder Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho.

      All six launched appeals, arguing their convictions should be overturned.

      Prosecutors have urged the High Court to not only uphold the convictions, but to increase the sentences as follows:

      Kong Hee: From 8 years to 11 to 12 years' jail

      Tan Ye Peng: From 5 years and 6 months to 11 to 12 years' jail

      Chew Eng Han: From 6 years to 11 to 12 years' jail

      Serina Wee: From 5 years to 11 to 12 years' jail

      John Lam: From 3 years to 8 to 9 years' jail

      Sharon Tan: From 21 months to 5 to 6 years' jail

      The prosecutors said the six "committed fraud of the worst kind" and that the judge had given "undue weight" to mitigating factors by noting that the offenders caused no permanent loss to the church and did not gain personally from their crimes.

      - CNA/vc
  • iveco's Avatar
    16,912 posts since Mar '04
  • lce's Avatar
    2,463 posts since Jun '11
  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    80,937 posts since Feb '08
    • City Harvest appeal: Recap of the long-running criminal case

      SINGAPORE: It's one of the longest-running criminal cases in Singapore as the trial, which began in May 2013 at the State Courts, went on for more than 140 days. 

      In October 2015, all six City Harvest Church leaders, including pastor Kong Hee, were found guilty of misappropriating about S$50 million of church funds.

      They had argued that they should be acquitted and on Friday morning (Apr 7), they'll learn the outcome of their appeal against both the conviction and sentences. 

      The hearing, to begin at 9.30am, is the culmination of a five-day appeal heard in September last year by a three-judge panel, including Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Onn.

      Also to be decided on Friday is the outcome of another six appeals brought by the prosecution who argued that the High Court should increase the jail terms for each of the six co-accused.

      UNPRECEDENTED CASE

      The City Harvest case is unprecedented. The S$50 million taken from the mega-church’s coffers is the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore.

      The money was used to bankroll the secular music career of the pastor’s wife Sun Ho - without the knowledge of the congregation which is made up of tens of thousands of worshippers who had donated the millions of dollars to the church.

      The case is unprecedented also because the millions were “replaced” through a series of sham investments and shady transactions, and the church ultimately suffered no financial loss.

      “If this is the largest amount going out the door, it is also unprecedented in that it is the largest amount coming back,” Kong's lawyer Jason Chan had said. 

      Still, the actions of Kong and the five co-accused were criminal - they effectively took City Harvest Church’s funds into their own hands to use as they pleased, despite them being plainly not authorised to do so, a judge had said.

      Although the congregation largely supported Sun Ho’s secular music career - through the church's Crossover Project which aimed to use her music to evangelise - they had no idea that they were footing the bill.

      A total of S$24 million of church funds diverted into sham investments was used to bankroll Ms Ho’s budding career and extravagant lifestyle. Another S$26 million of church funds was used to cover up the first amount to fool auditors and to conceal the fact that money from the church’s building fund - a restricted fund set aside for building-related expenses - had been used for an unauthorised purpose.

      WHAT PROSECUTORS ARE SEEKING

      Kong Hee and five church leaders - deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng and senior members Chew Eng Han, John Lam Leng Hung, Serina Wee Gek Yin and Sharon Tan Shao Yuen - were convicted after a 142-day trial and sentenced to between 21 months and eight years’ jail.

      If the High Court decides in the prosecution’s favour, the sentences of the six could be increased. The prosecution had argued for the following:

      Kong Hee: 8 years to 11 to 12 years’ jail
      Tan Ye Peng: 5 and a half years to 11 to 12 years’ jail
      Chew Eng Han: 6 years to 11 to 12 years’ jail
      Serina Wee Gek Yin: 5 years to 11 to 12 years’ jail
      John Lam Leng Hung: 3 years to 8 to 9 years’ jail
      Sharon Tan Shao Yuen: 21 months to 5 to 6 years’ jail 

      However, Friday's decision may not be the end of the saga. Either side may apply to refer a question of law to the Court of Appeal.

      - CNA/xk
    • Why judges ruled to reduce the jail terms of City Harvest Church leaders

       

    • City Harvest appeal: Kong Hee's sentence reduced to 3.5 years

       

    • City Harvest Church 'deeply saddened' by appeal decision

       

    • Disappointment, but sense of closure for City Harvest Church members after appeal verdict

       

  • TehJarVu's Avatar
    116,696 posts since Dec '03
  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    263,190 posts since Dec '99
  • lce's Avatar
    2,463 posts since Jun '11
  • Madamhe's Avatar
    2 posts since Feb '10
    • Jiao Head take 50 million dollars from everyday people to make China Wine in the name of God - money transferred... power also transferred... 

       

       

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YB5ocZK3_Y&feature=youtu.be

  • SOI's Avatar
    18 posts since Apr '17
    • Law Minister and AGC  are right to take further actions after reviewing the latest outcome, because justice in this case has not fully served as a result of defending lawyers taking advantage of the existing Laws in their appeal.

      IMO,  the appeal to quash the sentence, should be thrown out. If there's no request in their appeal to reduce the sentence, then cannot understand why the Appeal Judges reduced the sentences of all the six offenders.

      Justice cannot be fully served when it crosspath with the Laws that defence lawyers used to their advantage. Surely Justice should prevail in the end

  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    263,190 posts since Dec '99
  • SOI's Avatar
    18 posts since Apr '17
    • the innocent believers pray to God, while the unbelievers God  and deceptors prey on the ignorant. Blind faith is a deadly disease. 

  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    80,937 posts since Feb '08
    • AGC refers City Harvest case to Court of Appeal

      SINGAPORE: The prosecution in the City Harvest case has filed a "criminal reference" to the Court of Appeal, to clarify the law under which the High Court made its decision to cut the jail terms of all six church leaders, said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in a statement on Monday (Apr 10).

      In a split decision, the High Court had on Friday convicted church founder and pastor Kong Hee and five others of reduced charges. That had an impact on their sentences which were more or less halved.

      The six church leaders were found guilty in 2015 of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds, and originally convicted of the most aggravated form of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) under section 409 of the Penal Code.

      However, following an appeal, the High Court convicted them of a reduced charge under section 406 of the Penal Code - the least aggravated form of CBT for which the punishment is up to seven years’ jail.

      "Having carefully considered the written grounds, the prosecution is of the view that there are questions of law of public interest that have arisen out of the High Court’s decision," said the AGC in its statement.

      In particular, the prosecution is questioning "whether a director or a member of the governing body of a company or organisation who is entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, is so entrusted in the way of his business as an agent for the purposes of section 409 of the Penal Code."

      The AGC added: "The prosecution has accordingly filed a Criminal Reference today, to refer these questions of law to the Court of Appeal.

      "If the Court of Appeal answers the questions referred in accordance with the prosecution’s submissions, the prosecution intends to request that the Court of Appeal exercises its powers under section 397(5) to reinstate the appellants’ original convictions under section 409 of the Penal Code and make necessary and consequential orders in relation to the sentences given."

      A day after the High Court delivered its decision, Law Minister K Shanmugam said that the AGC told the Government they were appealing. "And the Government believed that the original (State Court) sentences were too low as well," said Mr Shanmugam on Saturday.

      Kong had his eight-year jail term cut to three-and-a-half years on Friday. Former fund manager Chew Eng Han's six-year sentence was lowered to three years and four months, while deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng had his original five-and-a-half-year sentence reduced to three years and two months.

      Former finance manager Serina Wee Gek Yin's original five-year sentence was halved to two years and six months, and former finance committee member John Lam Leng Hung's three-year sentence was similarly halved to one year and six months.

      Former finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen had her 21-month jail sentence reduced to seven months.  

      - CNA/dl
  • SOI's Avatar
    18 posts since Apr '17
    • well,  all six are 'agents"  as the funds are from donations entrusted and given in good faith by their members. The defense lawyers used the Laws to argue their point and unfortunately two of the Appeal judges agreed, at the expense of Justice.

      Call it what they want on the usage of the funds which clearly were inappropriate in a web of deception and manipulations. What a conspiracy - Mastermind and Accomplices using God's name to commit such acts and showing no remorse from start to end at the trial. 

      The court of appeal must consider the seriousness of their wrongdoings to overide the defense argument of the penal code.

         Defense lawyers using the Laws to obstruct appropriate Justice from being served.

      Bottom line, Justice must be served and prevailed.

      Every one has a choice,

      Every choice has its consequences.

      Their choices were to go through with their deceptive plans, so they must faced their eventual consequences.

       

  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    80,937 posts since Feb '08
    • City Harvest appeal: Chew Eng Han's jail term deferred, Sharon Tan to start early

      SINGAPORE: Requests by former City Harvest Church leaders Chew Eng Han and Sharon Tan regarding the starting of their sentences were granted by the High Court on Wednesday (Apr 19), two days before Chew was due to begin serving his three-year-and-four-month sentence. 

      Chew, who was supposed to start his jail term on Friday, asked the court to defer his sentence until after a Court of Appeal case brought by the prosecution to clarify the law under which he and five other church leaders were convicted.

      He also said he plans to take his case to the apex court, and is expected to apply for leave to refer a question of law to the Court of Appeal by May 5. 

      The High Court granted Chew, who is representing himself, the deferment so he will have time to conduct research and access the resources to conduct his own defence. 

      Chew, along with church founder Kong Hee, deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng, former finance committee member John Lam, and former finance managers Serina Wee and Sharon Tan, were convicted in 2015 of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds.

      Chew was sentenced to six years in jail, but the High Court on Apr 7 reduced it to three years and four months after an appeal. The other church leaders similarly had their sentences reduced.

      However, the prosecution said on Apr 10 that it was referring the case to the Court of Appeal to clarify the law.

      After the revised sentences were announced, Chew and four of the other church leaders asked for their sentences to start after two weeks, and the court agreed. 

      SHARON TAN'S DECISION TO START SENTENCE EARLY A 'TACTICAL' ONE: PROSECUTOR

      Sharon Tan was also in court on Wednesday, but with a different application.

      She had initially been granted a two-month deferment to June, citing her family's plans to relocate to the United States, but changed her mind and requested to start her seven-month sentence on Friday.  

      Her lawyer, Mr Paul Seah, said she wanted to finish serving the sentence - which was cut from 21 months initially - as soon as possible so she can be reunited with her husband and three children. 

      But the prosecution, led by deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong, objected.

      Mr Ong called Tan's decision to start her sentence earlier a "tactical" one, pointing out that the Court of Appeal's decision was pending.

      There was a real possibility, the prosecutor said, that Tan would have served her sentence and joined her family in the US by the time the case was heard by the apex court.

      "(Then) the Court of Appeal’s hands would be tied. Even if they decide to reinstate her 21-month sentence, she would be out of the country," he said. 

      Mr Seah rejected the prosecution's argument, saying that Tan would agree to remain in Singapore until the apex court’s decision even though she would likely have completed her stint by that time.

      The lawyer said the benefit of Tan starting her jail term earlier was that if the Court of Appeal reinstated Tan’s original sentence of 21 months, her ultimate release date would be sooner since she would have already served part of her sentence.

      In court, Mr Seah even offered to hand over Tan’s passport, but the prosecutor said the agreement is “legally unenforceable”.

      “We don’t have the power to take her passport. We are in a bind," he said. 

      The High Court – calling the prosecution’s attempt to block Tan from serving her sentence earlier “rather strange” – agreed to Tan’s request on the condition that she promised to remain in Singapore until the apex court’s decision and to serve a second stint in prison if the court reinstated her sentence.

      Mr Seah agreed to these terms and said he would state these in a letter to the court as well as the prosecution.

      Tan will now start her jail term on Friday, together with Kong, Wee, Lam and Tan Ye Peng.

      - CNA/mz
    • Kong Hee apologises for ‘unwise decisions’, to begin jail term on Apr 21

      SINGAPORE: City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee has issued an apology to his church and the public for “unwise decisions” he had made in the past.

      In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Kong said “I am truly sorry … I am filled with grief and regret over my mistakes and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.”

      He added that he is at peace with serving his three and a half year jail term that begins on Friday (Apr 21).

      “To all I have disappointed, stumbled and hurt in my church, in the Body of Christ at large, and in the public,” he said.

      “I have, in these past weeks since the release of the judgment, reflected deeply. I have come to terms with what is ahead and am at peace.”

      Kong was convicted in 2015 for misappropriating about S$50 million of church funds, along with five other City Harvest church leaders.

      He was initially given a jail sentence of eight years, but it was reduced to 3 years and six months in a High Court verdict on April 7.

      The prosecution has since appealed for the case to be heard by the apex court.

      - CNA/am
  • minx's Avatar
    851 posts since Sep '15
  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    80,937 posts since Feb '08
    • City Harvest Church’s Kong Hee begins serving 3.5-year jail term

      SINGAPORE: City Harvest Church’s pastor Kong Hee and four others convicted of misappropriating S$50 million from the megachurch’s coffers surrendered themselves on Friday morning (Apr 21) at the State Courts to be transported to prison to start serving their jail terms, ranging from seven months to three and a half years

      Kong, 52, had his eight-year sentence reduced to three and a half years’ jail on Apr 7 by the High Court. Five accomplices also saw their sentences cut.

      Chew was granted a stay by the High Court until the Court of Appeal decides questions of law brought by the prosecution. 

      Chew said he plans to bring his case to the apex court too, and the deferment would allow him the time and resources he needs to conduct his own defence.  

      The six were convicted in 2015 after a 140-day trial and sentenced to between 21 months and eight years’ jail.

      All six launched appeals, as did the prosecution. On Apr 7, 2017, the High Court decided to convict the six of reduced charges and consequently, all saw their jail terms significantly reduced. 

      - CNA/dl
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