MonthJune 2012

City Harvest Church responds to allegations

http://www.straitstimes.com/The-Big-Story/The-Big-Story-1/Story/STIStory_816542.html

PRESS STATEMENT (June 28): City Harvest Church has responded to certain issues raised this week concerning the CAD case.

Mr Aries Zulkarnain, the executive pastor and a founding member of the church since its start 23 years ago, says that the church stands with the members involved.

‘The people currently in the news are our pastors and trusted staff and leaders who have always put God and CHC first. As a church we stand with them and I believe fully in their integrity. Pastor Kong is still our Senior Pastor.’

Mr Zulkarnain says that COC has confirmed that Mr Kong Hee, the senior pastor, and Mr Tan Ye Peng, the deputy senior pastor will continue to preach at the church.

He emphasizes that church activities are not affected by the case. ‘City Harvest Church will continue to do its work. Our services and cell group meetings will carry on as usual. As a church we will continue to take care of our members and our community. We will not stop doing God’s work.’

With regard to the allegations, Mr Zulkarnain says, ‘It has been suggested that the church has been cheated of $50 million. This is not accurate. The $24 million, which went to investment bonds, was returned to the church in full, with interest. We didn’t lose the $24 million, nor did we lose ‘another $26.6m’ as alleged. The church did not lose any funds in the relevant transactions, and no personal profit was gained by the individuals concerned.’

Speaking on behalf of the Board, Bobby Chaw, the pastor in charge of missions at CHC, says that actions had been taken the past two years in accordance with the MCYS’ code of governance.

‘We replaced 50 per cent of our Board with new members. We engaged RSM Chio Lim to do a full internal audit and we have been putting their recommendations into action, and will continue to do so,’ says Mr Chaw. ‘We appreciate the need to maintain good corporate governance, and we are continuously working with MCYS to do so.’

However, Mr Chaw expresses his disappointment with some of the media’s coverage so far, particularly in relation to the COC inquiry.

‘In some instances, they seem to have pre-judged us. We will be dealing with this in due course,’ he says.

He adds that the church was also surprised that COC chose to implement the suspensions of the members involved without prior notice. ‘We have been co-operating with COC for two years since the start of the case, so these sudden suspensions came as a surprise to us.’

The church’s Advisory Pastor, Rev Dr Phil Pringle is in Singapore to stand with CHC. He is the senior pastor of C3 Church, Sydney, and the C3 Global Network of Churches. Dr Pringle expresses his support for the leadership.

‘I have known City Harvest Church, Kong, Sun and Ye Peng for a long time. CHC is not just a local church in Singapore. It has 49 affiliated churches and 6 Bible schools all across Asia. It has impact on international ground, and it has proven through many years that it serves the global community, both spiritually and practically through humanitarian works.’

Dr Pringle says he, along with CHC’s Advisory Chairman Dr A R Bernard, who is the senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, fully believe in and endorse the church’s Crossover Project as a mission to reach the world.

The church states that the Crossover Project is not about one person’s singing career; it is a mission that is fundamental to the congregation of CHC. The Crossover Project is an outreach that uses Sun Ho’s singing and music to engage people and places that would never otherwise hear the Gospel. As a result of the Crossover Project, many churches have grown worldwide and the faith of many has been strengthened. Impact has been made on the needy in Haiti, disaster victims in China, the depressed and suicidal in Taiwan, and the sick children in Honduras, among others.

Dr Pringle says, ‘The Gospel is the Good News and Christians are meant to share it. CHC has done this through the Crossover Project, which lies at the very heart of our religious beliefs.’

City Harvest Church Member writes to MCYS Minister; demands apology from Commissioner of Charities

City Harvest Church's main building in Jurong West. (Yahoo! photo)

City Harvest Church’s main building in Jurong West. (Yahoo! photo)

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/city-harvest-church-member-writes-to-mcys-minister–demands-for-apology-from-commissioner-of-charities.html

A City Harvest Church (CHC) member, Christopher Pang, has written to Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, alleging that the Commissioner of Charities’ (COC) statement on the charity is defamatory.
Pang, an executive member of the church, took issue with how the inquiry revealed “misconduct and mismanagement” in the church’s administration, and added that the COC should apologise for the statement that was released on Tuesday (26 June).
On Wednesday morning, five senior members of the church were charged in court for allegedly misappropriating church funds.
CHC founder and spiritual leader Kong Hee, 47, and board member John Lam Leng Hung, 44, both face three charges; his deputy Tan Ye Peng, 39, and investment manager Chew Eng Han face 10  charges; while finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, 37,  faces seven charges.
These charges include “sham transactions” made to conceal the diversion of money from the church’s Building Fund to fund the career of Kong’s pop singer wife, Ho Yeow Sun, 42; as well as further transactions created to make it appear that the sham investments had been redeemed.
In all, the funds involved total more than $50 million.
But in his letter to the Acting Minister, Pang said that church members “have given voluntarily to the church”  and added that the five accused have his “trust and support”. He also asserted that as a society, the church does not need to account to the public how its funds are used, and yet audited accounts are posted on its website for transparency and accountability.
He also added he was not supportive of the COC’s decision to suspend eight church leaders – which includes the five accused and Ho – from their offices.

City Harvest founder Kong Hee charged in court for alleged misuse of church funds

Kong Hee and Ho Yeow Sun go to court

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/city-harvest-founder-arrested-for-allegedly-misuing-church-funds.html

AFP News – Kong Hee and Ho Yeow Sun go to court


.
(UPDATED 27 June 1.50pm to add details of Kong’s court appearance)

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and four other senior CHC members were charged in court early Wednesday morning for alleged misuse of church funds.

They were offered bail of $500,000 each and their passports were impounded.

Kong, 47, faced three charges for committing criminal breach of trust as an agent of CHC and for allegedly misappropriating about $24 million from CHC’s building funds for unauthorised use.

Each charge carries the maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a fine.

His deputy, Tan Ye Peng, 39, faced 10 charges, with three for criminal breach of trust and another seven for allegedly falsifying church accounts to cover up discrepancies in numbers.

Another church board member, John Lam Leng Hung, 44, faced three charges similar to Kong, while church finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, 37, and investment manager Chew Eng Han, in his 50s, faced seven and 10 charges respectively.

The five were said to have diverted $24 million of the church’s building fund to finance the music career of Kong’s wife, pop singer Ho Yeow Sun.

This was allegedly done through a series of sham transactions, which were made under the pretense of being bond investments in two companies, Xtron Productions and PT The First National Glassware.

The prosecution believes that $13 million was diverted to Xtron, with the remaining $11 million of church funds going to the other company.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong told the court that not only had they allegedly diverted $24 million through false transactions, some of them had conspired to misappropriate another $26.6 million of church funds to cover it up.

Kong, Tan, and the three other senior ministry members looked solemn as the charges were read against them.

Dressed in a white shirt and black pants, Kong appeared strained as he walked into the Subordinate Courts holding hands with his wife, Ho, who kept her eyes downcast. The pair was accompanied by a group of at least 100 supporters.

Scuffles, shouting

CHC supporters were out in full force as early as 8 am and formed an orderly queue outside the packed courtroom, where the five were charged.

Some were heard in the queue cheering and said they were positive that Kong had been wrongly accused.

“He will come out of this white as snow. That’s what we are praying for, that’s what we’re sure of.” said one supporter, who declined to be named.

However, things got rowdy once Kong and Sun made their exit from the courts, with scuffles and shouting matches starting between some photographers and supporters.

Some supporters deliberately stood in the way of journalists following the couple and got aggressive when asked to move.

At one point, supporters around the couple used their hands to block the photographers’ photo lenses, and one was heard shouting “Why don’t you go and get another job?”.

The five are due to return to court in four weeks’ time, on 25 July.

They were arrested from their homes in a pre-dawn raid by police on Tuesday.

Kong, Tan Ye Peng and Lam sat on the church’s management board. Chew was a co-shareholder and director of AMAC Capital Partners Pte Ltd, the church’s investment arm, while Sharon Tan was City Harvest’s finance manager.

Focus on pop-star wife

According to a statement from the Commissioner of Charities (COC), the funds were believed to have been used to finance the music career of Kong’s pop-star wife, Ho Yeow Sun.

The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) began its two-year investigation in May 2010 after receiving information of alleged misuse of funds.

The COC, which launched its own investigation at the same time, found there was a “concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from the charity’s stakeholders.”

The COC has also suspended eight people, included the five that have been charged. The other three are Ho herself, Kelvin Teo Meng How and Jacqueline Tan Su Pheng.

Kong, a prolific Twitter user who goes by @konghee, posted a tweet at 9am on Tuesday with a Bible Psalm in Chinese, translated to “The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. Jesus will protect you from all harm.”

He had spent the previous weekend before his arrest delivering his usual sermons, including one at the Heart of God Church in Paya Lebar.

Members of City Harvest church reacted with a mix of shock and denial.

“I still believe he will come out spotless from all this — he’s a man of God and we believe in him,” said teacher Alicia Goh, 29, who attends the church regularly with her husband and two young children.

“I hope that the rest of the church and their good work will not be brought down with him. He is the founder of the church, but he can also make mistakes — if he has indeed misused our funds, he needs to own up,” said retiree Steven Wong, 67, who added that he was “very disappointed” by the news.

Many of Kong’s supporters also took to Twitter to ask for “prayers” for Kong and the senior church ministry members, with one user “Erictan” saying that he was “praying and fasting” for Kong’s “protection”.

Other tweets were more sarcastic, with one tweeter saying that Kong had been having too great a “harvest” and that his arrest was an indication that “there is a God”.

City Harvest, which was founded by Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho in 1989, is among the largest church congregations in Asia. It runs 36 internal ministries and in 2010, had an average of 23,000 worshippers attending its weekly services in English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese and Indonesian in Singapore.

Reporters and churchgoers alike were denied access to City Harvest’s main building in Jurong West on Tuesday evening.

26-year-old Lee Wei Kee, a gardener, who frequented the church on Tuesday evenings for bible classes and meetings, told Yahoo! Singapore he was surprised to find the building closed to everyone.

A member of City Harvest for seven years, Lee also voiced his confidence in Kong’s integrity, even though he said he was not aware of the case, and has yet to hear any word from the church.

Case is not against CHC

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean also weighed in on the arrests, saying in a statement that the charges filed against Kong and his four fellow leaders, and not against the church itself.

“The CHC is free to continue its church services and activities,” he said, calling for people to “let the law take its course” and “avoid speculation or making pre-judgements that may unnecessarily stir up emotions”.

In a statement, CHC said on Tuesday that “there is no case that is being brought against the church” although two pastors and three members have been invited to attend court on Wednesday.

CHC also said that the CHC Advisory Committee, comprising of Phil Pringle. founder of Christian City Church in Sydney and A R Bernard, founder and CEO of Christian Cultural Centre in New York, will continue to provide spiritual leadership. Both pastors were appointed advisory senior pastors over CHC.

Church operations and cell group meetings will continue as usual, including all weekend services as Singapore Expo and Jurong West, CHC said.

The CAD, which is investigating Kong Hee and his leaders, had previously led the probe against Ren Ci Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.

Just after 5:30pm on Tuesday, another tweet was sent from Kong’s account that read, “Tough day … I trust in You, Lord Jesus … Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!”

Test HTML 5 video player moon river

This is to show you how I sing. I using this video plugin hopefully your phone any device can see it properly.
[sublimevideo poster=”” src1=”http://thomas81.com/clip/files/videos/13375148824ee6a1.mp4″ src2=”(hd)http://thomas81.com/clip/files/videos/13375148824ee6a.mp4″ src3=”http://thomas81.com/clip/files/videos/13375148824ee6a1.mp4″ width=”584″ height=”328″]