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City Harvest Lenient verdict

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  • bic_cherry's Avatar
    435 posts since Jul '05
    • City Harvest Lenient verdict shows Judiciary is Sleeping on the job by taking Anti-Terrorism message with a light pinch of salt.

      [Image: city-harvest-leaders-sentences---3660682.png]

      This association of the concept of 'agent' as a solely commercial / licensed professional limitation is a much too NARROW definition.

      By all accounts, Kong Hee proclaimed himself to be the 'agent' of God to City Harvest Church (CHC). Kong Hee was the primary mastermind in both GROOMING his flock to accept his unquestionable authority as well as masterminding the CORRUPT transfer of church funds towards the illicit and covert objective of satisfying his wife's childhood dreams of becoming an international sex-bomb pop-music icon.

      The high court has thus OVERLOOKED the highly culpable aspect of 'GROOMING' as well as self proclamation by the pastor to be the 'agent/messenger ' of God, which in the minds of the impressionable or lay public, is likely to cause them to be in a position of GREAT VULNERABILITY and thus part with LARGE SUMS OF MONEY.

      These ILLICITLY obtained finances obtained through the deceit of MISREPRESENTING religious texts can then be transferred towards even more nefarious causes such as mass killings and other inhuman terrorism related causes.

      Religion based terrorist commonly recruit followers and fund their attacks on innocent civilians by GROOMING illiterate or unsuspecting individuals into perpetuating their extremist ideologies by representing themselves as religious authority figures, aka 'agents/ representatives/ prophets of God'

      The ability of religious leaders to brainwash and indoctrinate is certainly much GREATER than any licensed professional such as an accountant, lawyer/ doctor etc since none of the listed licensed professionals ordinarily bring the concept of the AFTERLIFE into the picture.

      The quantum of monies corruptly misused is a good clue to the severity of crime committed.

      For the judiciary to navel gaze and insists upon sentencing LENIENCY merely based upon their limited and sudden knee jerk re-definition of the term 'agent' is to commit an error of judgement akin to missing the forest for the trees.

      The Judiciary has totally overlooked the issue of GROOMING which ought DOUBLE the culpability of Kong Hee's crime.

      The City Harvest Church High Court judgement is thus a MISTAKE that society will only live to pay the price for as religious leaders with terror objectives read it as a judicial LOOPHOLE/ OBSOLESCENCE, and encouragement for them to achieve their destructive, ethnic cleansing / genocidal outcomes.

      ======================

      Singapore
      Why judges ruled to reduce the jail terms of City Harvest Church leaders
      The High Court, in a split decision, convicted Kong and his five accomplices of a reduced charge - the least aggravated form of Criminal Breach of Trust for which the punishment is up to seven years’ jail.

      (Clockwise from top left): Tan Ye Peng, Kong Hee, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Sharon Tan and Serina Wee. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

      By Vanessa Paige Chelvan
      07 Apr 2017 09:49PM (Updated: 15 Jun 2017 12:36PM) Share this content

      SINGAPORE: They were found guilty of misappropriating S$50 million of church funds - a record amount in Singapore’s legal history - but six City Harvest Church leaders saw their sentences reduced on Friday (Apr 7), in a twist to a long-running case that first went before the courts way back in mid-2013.

      image: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/image/8716804/0x0/1200/1262/89c4630ee651caad18a647d31055fa32/fc/city-harvest-leaders-sentences---3660682.png
      So why did the three-judge panel rule as it did?

      In 2015, the six members - Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan - were convicted of the most aggravated form of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) under the Penal Code: CBT by public servant, or by banker, merchant, or agent.

      Section 409 of the Penal Code states that:

      Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, in his capacity of a public servant, or in the way of his business as a banker, a merchant, a factor, a broker, an attorney or an agent, commits criminal breach of trust in respect of that property, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 20 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

      However the High Court, in a split decision, convicted Kong and his five accomplices of a reduced charge - the least aggravated form of CBT for which the punishment is up to seven years’ jail.

      For a conviction under the aggravated CBT charge under section 409 of the Penal Code to stand, the elements of the offence must be made out:

      1. The accused (namely, Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng and John Lam) were entrusted with control over CHC’s funds.

      2. This entrustment was in the way of Kong, Ye Peng and Lam’s business as agents.

      3. Money from CHC’s funds were misappropriated for various unauthorised purposes as part of a conspiracy to misuse CHC’s funds.

      4. The accused abetted each other by engaging in the above conspiracy to misuse CHC’s funds; and

      5. The accused acted dishonestly in doing so.

      Majority of the panel - Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justice Woo Bih Li - decided the prosecution had not proved the second element of the offence.

      Their decision largely came down to the wording of section 409, hinging on the definition of the word “agent” and whether Kong and the co-conspirators could be said to be “in the business” of agents.

      The decision was also influenced by the judges’ interpretation of the law. They said an agent under section 409 must refer to “professional agents” as opposed to “casual agents”.

      The wording of the law “(cannot) conceivably encompass a person (a casual agent) who has been appointed the treasurer of a society and by virtue of that appointment is holding onto the funds of the society”, the judges said.

      Section 409 must refer to a “professional agent”, “one who professes to offer his agency services to the community at large and from which he makes his living”, they said. “It refers to a commercial activity done for profit.”

      In coming to their decision, JA Chao and Justice Woo abandoned a precedent which has been applied in Singapore for the past 40 years, to draw this distinction: To fall under the scope of section 409, the agent must be “external” to the company or organisation that is entrusting the property to him.

      Kong, Tan Ye Peng and Lam were directors of the CHC board, which were “internal” roles, the judges deemed.

      “While a director undoubtedly holds an important position in a company or organisation, it cannot be said that a person by becoming a director has offered his services as an agent to the community at large and makes his living as an agent.”

      JA Chao and Justice Woo acknowledged their decision would upset the state of affairs, but said: “This does not, however, mean that we can ignore the wording of the section.”

      Between the most aggravated form of CBT (section 409) and least aggravated (section 406), there are another two sections covering other aggravated forms of CBT - sections 407 and 408 - for which the punishment is up to 15 years’ jail.

      “We agree that it is intuitively unsatisfactory,” the judges said, that “(under sections 407 and 408), a clerk, servant, carrier or warehouse keeper would be liable for an aggravated offence. This does not, however, mean that we can ignore the wording of the section”. “If an interpretation of a statutory provision is erroneous … it must be corrected notwithstanding how entrenched it may have become.”

      Justice Chan Seng Onn disagreed with the other judges.

      The convictions of Chew, Ye Peng, Serina and Sharon for falsification of accounts were upheld.

      Source: CNA/xk
      Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/why-judges-ruled-to-reduce-the-jail-terms-of-city-harvest-church-8716810

  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    84,155 posts since Feb '08
    • Apex court to rule on City Harvest Church criminal reference on Thursday

      SINGAPORE — More than five months after it heard prosecutors’ arguments against the High Court’s decision to impose shorter jail sentences on six former City Harvest Church leaders, the Court of Appeal will on Thursday (Feb 1) deliver its highly anticipated verdict.

      The decision could shed light on whether there is a gap in Singapore’s criminal breach of trust (CBT) laws, such that heads of organisations who commit the crime could get off more lightly than their subordinates.

      It could also mark the conclusion of the marathon case, for which investigations began in 2010 and the trial began nearly five years ago.

      In August last year, the prosecution led by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair had argued before five-judge apex court – Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Judith Prakash, and Justices Belinda Ang, Quentin Loh and Chua Lee Ming – that the High Court’s split 2-1 decision was wrong.

      The jail terms of the six individuals – including church founder Kong Hee – were slashed to between seven months and 3.5 years by the High Court in April last year, down from between 21 months and eight years earlier imposed by the State Courts.

      This was because the High Court convicted the six leaders of CBT under Section 406 of the Penal Code, which carries a lower maximum jail term of seven years, instead of Section 409 of CBT by an agent, which carries a higher maximum jail term of 20 years.

      Of the six individuals, one – former finance manager Sharon Tan, 41 – has already completed her seven-month sentence, while the church’s former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 57, is out on bail pending the court’s decision.

      Kong, 52, his former deputy Tan Ye Peng, 44, former finance manager Serina Wee, 40, and former finance committee member John Lam, 49, are serving their jail terms.

      They were convicted of misusing S$24 million of church building funds on sham bonds between 2007 and 2009, mainly to further the pop music career of church co-founder and Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun, then misusing another S$26.6 million to cover up the first amount.

      In the prosecution’s criminal reference to raise a question of law, Mr Nair had argued that the High Court’s decision upended a long-held principle of having heads of organisations who commit CBT face the harshest penalties available.

      Mr Nair had argued that the High Court had not defined “agent” based on previous decisions, in Singapore or elsewhere. The two majority judges found that an “agent” under Section 409 of the Penal Code must refer to “professional agents” who offer their agency services as a “commercial activity” – which Kong and his accomplices did not.

      “As interpreted by the majority, Section 409 makes a mockery of the law,” Mr Nair had said.

      How the High Court reduced the jail terms of the six former City Harvest Church leaders in April 2017

      Church founder Kong Hee: From eight years to 3.5 years

      Former deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng: From 5.5 years to three years and two months

      Former church fund manager Chew Eng Han: From six years to three years and four months

      Former finance manager Serina Wee: From five years to 2.5 years

      Former finance committee member John Lam: From three years to 18 months

      Former finance manager Sharon Tan: From 21 months to seven months

       

      -- TODAY

  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    84,155 posts since Feb '08
    • City Harvest case: Prosecution’s bid to reinstate longer jail terms rejected by Apex court

      SINGAPORE: The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said it will work with the relevant ministries on "the appropriate revisions to the Penal Code" following the Apex court's decision on Thursday (Feb 1) to uphold the convictions and sentences of the City Harvest Church's six leaders.

      This is to ensure that company directors and other persons in similar positions of trust and responsibility are subject to appropriate punishments if they commit criminal breach of trust, the AGC said in its response to the Court of Appeal's decision.

      "In coming to this decision, the Court of Appeal overruled a 1976 High Court decision, which had held that company directors could be convicted for criminal breach of trust under section 409 of the Penal Code.

      "That was the position consistently taken by the courts since 1976, until the High Court which heard the Magistrate’s Appeal for the present case departed (by a 2-1 majority) from the position in the 1976 High Court decision," the statement from the AGC said.

      The AGC added that the Court of Appeal's ruling on the City Harvest case means that that "company directors, as well as governing board members or key officers of charities and officers of societies, who commit criminal breach of trust of company property are only liable to be punished under section 406 of the Penal Code (Criminal Breach of Trust simpliciter), which provides for a maximum sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment."

      The AGC said: "In contrast, employees of a company who commit criminal breach of trust are liable for up to 15 years’ imprisonment."

      In Thursday morning's hearing, the Court of Appeal found in favour of City Harvest Church’s Kong Hee and five others, rejecting the prosecution’s bid to reinstate the original convictions and sentences of the six church leaders.

      This means Kong, his former deputy Tan Ye Peng and senior members Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan will continue to serve reduced jail terms of seven months to three and a half years, slashed from between 21 months and eight years.

      During the hearing, Judge of Appeal Andrew Phang acknowledged the “lacuna,” or gap, in the law brought to light in this case, but he said the five-judge Court of Appeal would not “paper over” it.

      “A hard case should not be allowed to make bad law,” Judge Phang said. “The shaping of a remedy should be left to Parliament,” he added.


      Source: CNA/mn

  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    84,155 posts since Feb '08
    • Ex-City Harvest fund manager Chew Eng Han arrested for attempting to flee Singapore by motorised sampan

      Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han has been arrested for attempting to leave Singapore illegally by a motorised sampan on Wednesday morning (21 February), a day before he was to serve his sentence for misappropriating the church’s funds.

      The 57-year-old, who was with 53-year-old Tan Poh Teck in the sampan, was planning to escape to Malaysia before they were intercepted by the Police Coast Guard (PCG) off Pulau Ubin, the police said at a news conference held at Loyang Regional Base. Tan, who was piloting the sampan, was also arrested by the PCG.

      Chew was found with about $5,000 in cash, fishing equipment and three mobile phones.

      Meanwhile, Chew Eng Soon was arrested on Wednesday afternoon for abetting the offence of leaving Singapore illegally. Yahoo News Singapore understands that he is Chew Eng Han’s older brother.

      Chew Eng Han and Tan will be charged in court on Thursday.

      Commander of Police Coast Guard, Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) of Police Hsu Sin Yun, said at the conference that the police were tipped off on Chew’s escape attempt.

      Yahoo News Singapore understands that Chew and Tan said that they were fishing when officers approached them at sea. It is also understood that Tan had boarded the boat at the Pulau Ubin jetty and the pair were found about 750m away from the island.

      SAC Hsu said in a statement, “PCG will continue to safeguard our waters and sea borders against crime and security threats, including unauthorised entry into and departure from Singapore.”

      Chew, who was out on bail, had his jail sentence deferred to start after the Chinese New Year holiday period.

      In 2015, Chew and five other former CHC leaders including church founder Kong Hee were convicted for misappropriating some $24 million in the church’s building funds to fund the secular music career of Kong’s wife Sun Ho. Another $26 million was misused to cover up the initial crime.

      For his role, he was originally sentenced to a jail term of six years but the High Court later reduced it to three years and four months, which was then upheld by the Court of Appeal.

      In July and August last year, Chew, who represented himself, had on two separate occasions filed criminal references to challenge his criminal breach of trust (CBT) conviction. Both were rejected by the Court of Appeal, which called Chew’s second bid an “abuse of court process” that was “devoid of merit”.

      If found guilty of leaving Singapore illegally, Chew can be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to $2,000.

      Those found guilty of abetting a person to leave Singapore illegally can be jailed for six months to two years, and be fined up to $6,000.

      City Harvest Church saga

      In November 2015, all six CHC leaders were found guilty of varying charges of CBT and falsifying accounts in a trial that spanned over 140 days, and sentenced to between 21 months and eight years in jail.

      They later had their jail terms reduced to between seven months and three years and six months, following an appeal where they were found guilty of a lesser form of CBT by the High Court in April last year.

      An appeal by the prosecution to reinstate the original longer jail terms for the six was dismissed on 1 February.

      Chew, who was then in court with his wife and daughter, told reporters after the hearing that the verdict came out as “(they) hoped for” and added that he had “no strong feelings” after all that he had been through.

      Kong, 53, was sentenced to three years and six months in jail; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 45, was sentenced to three years and two months in jail;  former finance manager Serina Wee, 41, was sentenced to two years and six months in jail; former finance committee member John Lam, 50, was sentenced to one year and six months in jail; and former finance manager Sharon Tan, 42, was sentenced to seven months in jail.

      They are currently serving their sentences, except Sharon Tan who has completed hers.

       

      -- Yahoo! Singapore

  • iveco's Avatar
    17,163 posts since Mar '04
    • Now this case became a political issue after the doctored headline of "PAP lawyer saving Kong Hee's ass" made its rounds on Facebook, with K Shanmugam threatening legal action against the creator. Shanmugam is Law Minister and also head of a committee to tackle fake news. Many regard this committee as a threat to free speech.

      Edited by iveco 21 Feb `18, 9:34PM
  • iveco's Avatar
    17,163 posts since Mar '04
  • EMERGENCY AMBULANCE
    QX179R's Avatar
    84,155 posts since Feb '08
    • Former City Harvest Church leader Chew Eng Han charged with trying to flee the country

      SINGAPORE: Former City Harvest Church leader Chew Eng Han was charged on Thursday (Feb 22) with attempting to flee the country from Pulau Ubin in a motorised sampan on Wednesday morning.

      He was on bail of S$1 million and due to turn himself in on Thursday to start serving a jail term of three years and four months for his role in the misappropriation of S$50 million of church funds. It was the largest fraud involving charitable funds in Singapore’s history.

      Chew, 57, was arrested at sea at 8.47am on Wednesday for leaving the country from an unauthorised point of departure “without being compelled by accident or other reasonable cause”, court documents stated. The sampan, piloted by Tan Poh Teck, was intercepted by the Police Coast Guard about 2.4km away from Pulau Ubin.

      Tan, 53, was also charged on Thursday with abetting Chew’s illegal departure by taking him on his fishing boat bound for Malaysia.

      The pair had claimed to be on a fishing trip when they were arrested. The coast guard, which intercepted the boat following a tip-off, said a preliminary investigation revealed the men were headed to Malaysia.

      The authorities seized S$5,000 in cash and fishing equipment from the sampan.

      Channel NewsAsia understands Chew had boarded the sampan at Pulau Ubin, where he had travelled from the mainland on his own.

      In court on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan said Chew’s bail should be revoked, and that a hearing should be scheduled for his bailor to show cause. Otherwise, the entire amount could be forfeited.

      The prosecutor added that he has written to the Court of Appeal to request a new date for Chew to commence his sentence. A date has yet to be fixed.

      A district judge ordered the remand of both men for a week to assist in investigations. They will next appear in court on Mar 1.

      FAMILY FOUND OUT CHEW WAS ARRESTED FROM MEDIA

      Lawyer Jonathan Phipps, who is representing Chew, said he was instructed last night by Chew’s wife, who was accompanied by nine family members in court on Thursday. Tan does not have a lawyer.

      Mr Phipps said the family wants to keep a low profile and will not comment on the case. They found out Chew had been arrested on Wednesday morning from media reports.

      The family is upset the police did not inform them of Chew's arrest, he said.

      Chew faces one charge under the Immigration Act of leaving Singapore unlawfully at an unauthorised point of departure. If convicted, he faces up to six months’ jail and a fine of up to S$2,000.

      For abetment, Tan could be jailed for six months to two years and fined up to S$6,000.

      The authorities arrested Chew’s older brother Eng Soon, 61, at about 3.40pm on the same day. Chew Eng Soon had abetted his brother to flee the country, authorities allege. He has not yet been charged. Channel NewsAsia understands he is still in police custody.


      Source: CNA/cy

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