MonthOctober 2015

Sun Ho is officially a pastor at City Harvest Church

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/sun-ho-is-officially-a-pastor-at-city-harvest-church-100749696.html

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By Nurul Azliah Aripin | Yahoo Newsroom – Thu, Oct 29, 2015

Former Mandopop star Ho Yeow Sun, 43, is now officially a pastor at City Harvest Church.

Her 51-year-old husband Kong Hee, who is also the founder of City Harvest Church, posted a video of her ordination on 19 October, two days before he, along with five others connected to the church were guilty of criminal breach of trust.

The two-minute clip shows Ho being ordained by someone who appears to be Dr Michael Scales from New York’s Christian College (NYACK), as well as her husband Kong, who was one of the six church leaders declared guilty for misappropriating church funds to finance Ho’s singing career.

During the ordination, Ho was seen kneeling on the stage, in front of thousands of congregants, with several others standing behind her.

Kong held her head while praying, before handing her his Bible.

“I pray when she speaks, fire will come out of her belly,” he said.

In the caption, Kong asked the congregants to pray for the church’s next generation of leaders, saying “Please continue to pray for Sun & our new generation leadership team, as they work together for CHC 2.0!”

As a pastor, Ho will be responsible for leading City Harvest Church, and providing counsel and advice to its congregants.

Kong, who is also the founder of the mega church, was suspended from his duties at the church after he was charged for three counts of criminal breach of trust.

He is currently waiting the prosecution’s written submissions to court, which will take place on 6 Nov. His lawyer will respond with a mitigation plea on 20 November. Sentencing is expected to take place either on the same day or at a later date.

In City Harvest judgment, Judge singles out Kong Hee’s part in ‘culture of secrecy’

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/in-city-harvest-judgment/2212098.html

TODAY reports: Judge See Kee Oon says Kong Hee capitalised on the church’s climate of paranoia and fear in 2003 to galvanise support for the Crossover Project.

SINGAPORE: Criticising what he called the culture of insecurity that six City Harvest Church leaders convicted on Wednesday (Oct 21) operated under, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon saved some of his strongest words for church founder Kong Hee in his 270-page written judgment released to the media on Thursday.

The six leaders – Kong, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former church investment manager Chew Eng Han, former church finance manager Sharon Tan and former church board member John Lam – were found guilty on all counts of criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts.

The judge had delivered his oral judgment, a condensed version of the written grounds, on Wednesday. He found that they had acted dishonestly and in breach of the trust reposed in them to cause wrongful loss of S$50 million to the church and to defraud auditors.

The judge said Kong capitalised on the church climate of paranoia and fear in 2003 to galvanise support for the Crossover Project – using his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s secular pop music to reach out to non-Christians.

The collective fear arose after then-church member Roland Poon publicly commented that church funds had been used to promote Ms Ho’s music career. Kong’s response to the incident revealed “both his personal dominance and deep insecurity”, said judge See.

The pastor rallied the church “around the big idea that … CHC’s leaders and by extension the entire church were being maligned and under attack, and hence had to be discreet”, the judge added.

The effort to keep the church’s financing of the Crossover discreet led to the set-up of Xtron Productions to manage Ms Ho’s career. The criminal charges in this case relate in part to sham bonds worth millions of dollars that the church bought from Xtron to channel church funds to the Crossover Project.

All six leaders’ committed zeal for the Crossover vision may have clouded their objectivity and judgment and obscured the need to safeguard money that was not theirs to use as they wished, said Judge See. They chose to create cover stories and clever round-trips concealing their unlawful conduct, he added.

“The allure of power that can be exercised in secrecy is difficult to resist. When shrouded under a cloak of invisibility, much like the mythical ring of Gyges, persons in such positions of power have no fear of accountability and tend to become their own worst enemies,” he wrote.

The ring of Gyges is a mythical artefact that grants its owner the power to become invisible at will, mentioned in Greek philosopher Plato’s The Republic.

Judge See wrote: “It has thus been wisely said that the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light, and if they choose not to come into the light they do so for fear that their deeds will be exposed, as they surely will in time.”

Kong would not have been able to act alone and could not orchestrate every move, and the five other leaders were both trusted and trusting, he added.

Noting that none of the six was aware of all the details, the judge said it could be because there were far too many moving parts in the plan for the Crossover to the United States, which grew more ambitious over time.

The US foray involved Ms Ho’s debut English album, which had hip-hop star Wyclef Jean roped in at one point. It led to the church’s sham bond investments worth S$24 million in Xtron and another company, and four of the leaders then misused another S$26.6 million of church funds to try to cover up the first amount.

“But this may have also been the inevitable consequence of CHC’s election to carry out its affairs and operations relating to the funding of the Crossover in a discreet fashion. This was merely a euphemism for a culture of insecurity mired in secrecy and opaqueness where asking difficult or awkward questions was taboo,” the judge wrote.

Separately, Kong broke his silence on the verdict on Thursday, posting on Facebook his belief that God would use the outcome of the case for good.

The pastor also thanked his supporters and said: “The days and steps ahead are challenging, but with God’s grace and love, I have no fear.”

The six will be back in court on Nov 20, where they could be sentenced.

All 6 in City Harvest Church trial found guilty of all charges

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/live-updates-verdict-city-harvest-church-trial-expected

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(From top left, clockwise) City Harvest Church’s Kong Hee, John Lam, Serina Wee, Sharon Tan, Tan Ye Peng and Chew Eng Han have been found guilty of all charges on Oct 21, 2015. Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

They were ‘inextricably tangled’ in two conspiracies of misusing church monies, says judge

By Kelly Ng
kellyng@mediacorp.com.sg
Published: 9:14 AM, October 21, 2015

SINGAPORE — The six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders have been found guilty of various charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts.

CHC founder Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, former church accountant Serina Wee, former church finance manager Sharon Tan, former investment manager Chew Eng Han and former CHC board member John Lam were today (Oct 21) convicted of three to 10 charges each.

All six are out on bail. The bail stood at S$1 million each for Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, John Lam and Chew Eng Han. The bail for Serina Wee and Sharon Tan was at $750,000 each. They are not allowed to travel.

Delivering his oral judgement this morning, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon said that all six were “inextricably tangled” in two conspiracies of misusing church Building Fund monies to buy sham bond investments to finance the Crossover Project — which aims to use the music of church co-founder and Kong’s wife Sun Ho to evangelise — and thereafter misusing make church funds to cover up the first amount to defraud auditors by falsifying accounts. More than S$50 million was found to have been misappropriated.

JC See found that while Tan Ye Peng, Chew, Wee, Sharon Tan and Lam had acted in trust of Kong’s leadership, it does not exonerate them. “No matter how pure the motives and how ingrained the trust in leaders, these do not exonerate the accused persons.”

While the extents of their involvement were distinct, Judicial Commissioner (JC) See said none could be excluded from their implication in the conspiracy.

He added: “They had convinced themselves morally and legally permissible to temporarily use money from CHC funds when they knew it was not.”

JC See said he could not accept that the accused persons genuinely believe sale of Ms Ho’s albums would generate enough to redeem the bonds, and therefore cannot accept their claims that they believed the bond investments were genuine.

He also found that use of Building Fund monies to finance the Crossover shows dishonesty, as the Crossover “was not for the purposes (the fund was meant for) since by (the accused persons’) own admission it was meant to service mission”.

The prosecution will have to file written submissions by Nov 6, while the defence will file mitigation pleas by Nov 13. Oral submissions to be delivered on Nov 20 at 9.30am.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

Shortly after the judgement, Ms Sun Ho issued a statement on CHC’s Facebook page saying that the CHC Management Board are “disappointed by the outcome”. Ms Ho said Kong Hee and the rest are “studying the judgement intently and will take legal advice from their respective lawyers”.

CHC’s operations will continue, with the new management and new Church Board that were introduced in 2012 running the church, said Ms Ho who called on the church to “stay on course with CHC 2.0”.

“God is making us stronger, purer and more mature as a congregation,” she said on behalf of the CHC Management Board.

Separately, the National Council of Churches (NCCS) said it was “saddened” by the conviction of the six CHC leaders. “It is our hope and prayer that good will come out of this whole episode, especially as a reminder to pay greater attention on church governance in the matter of management of funds,” said the NCCS president Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup and NCCS General Secretary Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian in a statement.

NCCS also urged the Christian community to pray for the church, and noted: “NCCS wishes to assure all fellow Singaporeans that while it appreciates the freedom of worship in our nation, it will also guide and advise members of the Christian community to constantly observe the law of the land.”