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City Harvest Church saga to (finally) come to long-awaited conclusion on Feb. 1, 2018

It has been five and a half years since the six leaders were first charged in court.

By Guan Zhen Tan | January 30, 2018

It looks like February will start off on an exciting note.

Lianhe Zaobao reported on Tuesday afternoon that the highest court in the land, the Court of Appeal, will deliver its verdict on the final appeal of the City Harvest Church case on Thursday, Feb. 1.

This will seal, likely for good, what has stretched on for at least five and a half years now, since the six church leaders including the church’s founder Kong Hee were first charged in court for funds misappropriation of more than S$50.6 million collectively.

 

In July last year, state prosecutors had sought clarification on the three-judge High Court ruling in Apr. 2017, which resulted in the reduction of sentences for Kong, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior paster Tan Ye Peng, former finance managers Serina Wee and Sharon Tan as well as John Lam, who served as a member of the church’s finance committee.

But here’s a recap:

The six CHC leaders were found guilty in 2015 for misappropriating S$50.6 million of church funds to fund the lifestyle and career of Kong Hee’s wife, Sun Ho.

The Kongviction came under the most serious form of criminal breach of trust (CBT), under section 409 of the Penal Code.

All of the six leaders had appealed against their convictions, and the High Court eventually convicted them of a reduced charge, one that comes under section 406 of the Penal Code — this is the least aggravated form of criminal breach of trust.

For an explanation, read this story:

3 High Court judges’ explanation for City Harvest leaders’ reduced jail terms, explained

Thursday’s verdict will represent the conclusion of the longest-running case in Singapore’s judicial history, which will either see the Kongvicts serve longer sentences, as per their initial charges, or continue with their current reduced sentences, should the prosecution’s bid be rejected.

The public prosecutor had appealed to reinstate the original convictions, and on Aug. 1 last year, the Court of Appeal reserved judgment on the ruling.

The apex court said at that time it would deliver its judgement “in due course”, without specifying the date.

Here are the sentences as they currently stand:

  • Kong Hee, 52, CHC founder, gets 3 years 6 months, reduced from 8 years
    After remission: 2 years 4 months
  • Chew Eng Han, 56, former CHC fund manager, gets 3 years 4 months, reduced from 6 years.
    After remission: 2 years 2 months-plus 1  
  • Tan Ye Peng, 44 , deputy senior pastor, gets 3 years 2 months, reduced from 5 1/2 years.
    After remission: 2 years 1 month-plus
  • Serina Wee, 40, former CHC finance manager, gets 2 years 6 months, reduced from 5 years.
    After remission:1 year 8 months
  • John Lam, 49, former CHC finance committee member, gets 1 year 6 months, reduced from 3 years.
    After remission: 12 months
  • Sharon Tan, 41, former CHC finance manager, gets 7 months, reduced from 21 months.
    After remission: 4 months-plus 2  

1 Chew had remained on bail to appeal his conviction, but he was unsuccessful in his two attempts. In Sep 2017, the High Court judges said that the judgement to uphold Chew’s conviction is “final and authoritative on these issues”.

2 Tan has since finished serving her sentence.

Kong Hee, Sharon Tan, John Lam, Tan Ye Peng and Serina Wee, surrendered themselves last April at the State Courts to commence their prison sentences.

Here’s a summary timeline of how developments have unfolded since the six became Kongvicts:

  • Oct. 21 2015: CHC leaders are convicted of misappropriating S$50.6 million of church funds.
    • They are sentenced to jail terms of between 8 years and 1 year 9 months, under the most aggravated form of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT), which is Section 409 of the Penal Code1.
  • Dec. 2015: The six appeal against their convictions and sentences.
  • Apr. 7, 2017: The High Court convicts them of a reduced charge under Section 406 of the Penal Code2, based on a 2-1 decision.
    • This resulted in their jail sentences being cut by about half, ranging from three-and-a-half years to seven months.
  • Aug. 1, 2017: Court of Appeal reserves judgement on state prosecutors’ appeal to reinstate the original convictions. The apex court said it would deliver its judgment “in due course” but did not specify when.
  • Feb. 1, 2018:  The Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement on the public prosecutor’s appeal.

Whew.

Related articles:

Public prosecutor appeals to reinstate City Harvest Church leaders’ harsher sentences

City Harvest case: Sharon Tan released, Serina Wee & John Lam soon eligible for home detention

3 High Court judges’ explanation for City Harvest leaders’ reduced jail terms, explained

Top image via City News. 

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen is a serial doodler with multiple pens with her wherever she goes. She loves listening to Visual Kei bands, Jamiroquai and random songs from the future-funk genre.

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