In the wake of the City Harvest Church (CHC) appeal verdict, one of the points of contention for many in the Internet space was the idea that part of the reason why the sentence was effectively halved for the CHC leaders was the fact that no one personally benefited from the misappropriated funds.
Here is an excerpt from the judges' oral statement on this issue:
"None of the appellants, particularly Eng Han, Ye Peng, John Lam, and Serina Wee could be said to have gained anything from what they did other than pursuing the objects of CHC."
That was cited as one of the main reasons why a harsher sentence was avoided:
"Thus despite the fact that a large amount of funds was misappropriated, which would originally have attracted a sentence at the higher end of the sentencing spectrum.
We would allow for a significant discount given the mitigating factors in the present case."
One of the mitigating factors was their belief that the six convicts gained nothing from the project.
Now if you have followed the case, or are a fan of crappy dance music, you might find something iffy about that statement.
Sun Ho, pastor's wife and entertainment powerhouse, flew to America, recorded songs with prominent superstars, and got to hone her love for singing.
That sounds a bit benefit-y to us non-legal eagles.
Well, as it turned out, that part was also a bit iffy to the judge, who said this:
"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..."
See, they appear inclined to agree with the idea.
But why not now?
"The point was not raised in its written submissions for the appeal and was also not raised before the judge."
It wasn't brought up in the meat of the prosecutors' arguments when they submitted their appeal.
The judge also noted that gains to third parties were not a major focus in the prosecution's appeal case.
"We also note that the prosecution had not focused on any gains to third parties for its case on conviction and sentence."
Now you know.
Here are some slightly unrelated but nonetheless interesting articles:
Top photo from Kong Hee's FB