Channel News Asia has been continually reporting the unfolding of events in the Singapore courts of the sentencing of six City Harvest Church leaders.
The judge has sentenced Kong Hee to eight years jail in prison.
City Harvest trial live updates: Leaders sentenced to jail
SINGAPORE: The six City Harvest leaders who were found guilty of criminal breach of trust and falsifying church accounts were on Friday (Nov 20) received jail terms of between 21 months and eight years.
3.00pm: The six leaders have been sentenced to between 21 months’ and eight years’ jail, with senior pastor Kong Hee receiving the heaviest sentence of eight years behind bars. Judge See Kee Oon said Kong Hee, the church’s founder, was found to be the most culpable among the convicted church leaders.
The bail for all six of them was extended, and the start of their jail terms have been deferred to Jan 11, 2016.
1.57pm: “For us ex-members we’ll leave it to the judge. We have to respect the Honour’s decision. As what the prosecutor says, we need to do it right now because it will have a great repercussion on other mega churches on what and what cannot be done,” said a man who identified himself as a former City Harvest member.
1.32pm: Judge says he will pass the sentence at 3pm.
1.28pm: Prosecution: “In pursuing the Crossover Project, the accused have clearly crossed so far over the line that a substantial sentence is certainly called for.”
1.04pm: Prosecution: “This Court has found that loans were sought from a number of individuals in order for Xtron to return the ARLA (Advance Rental Licence Agreement) to CHC… Tan Ye Peng sold his house to pay back. Well, the alternative was to come to court and admit what he has done.”
12.55pm: Prosecution: “We submit that nothing in their circumstances will render the “clang of the prison gates” so thunderous as to justify a short term of imprisonment.”
12.48pm: Prosecution: “Where an offence involves a breach of trust, this is generally treated as an aggravating factor. Its powerful influence is shown by the degree to which it
outweighs factors which would normally go in mitigation. Indeed, there is the paradox that some of the strongest factors in mitigation (unblemished career, model citizen, good employment record) are often present in these cases and yet do not tell greatly in the offender’s favour.”
“The reason is that positions of trust are not normally given to individuals unless they have unblemished references, and so the offence may be seen as a betrayal of those very basis of trust, and one of the burdens of a position of trust is an undertaking of incorruptibility.”
12.39pm: Prosecution: “As this Court has observed, each of the accused persons played their respective roles in a conspiracy with intent to cause wrongful loss to CHC and to defraud the auditors.”
“They did not merely wait passively for Kong Hee to instruct them to carry out each specific act and deception needed to drive the conspiracy forward. They took their own initiative to deceive and mislead the trusting members of CHC where necessary, and cannot escape responsibility for those acts.”
12.34pm: Prosecution: “Kong Hee intentionally fostered an organisational culture of
unquestioning trust in relation to the Crossover Project. He did so by capitalising on CHC’s collective fear of external attack in the wake of the Roland Poon incident, convincing members that they ought to simply trust CHC’s leaders to manage the Project without questioning their motives or reasons.”
12.27pm: Prosecution: “The criminal breach of trust offences which the accused persons committed involve the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore’s legal history.”
“This long-running case involving criminal breach of trust by the most senior managers of a charity has clearly attracted public disquiet, and inevitably affects public confidence that funds donated for charitable purposes, especially to large and well-resourced charities, are managed honestly and properly safeguarded.”
12.11pm: Lawyer Andre Maniam said: “Serina Wee was not a parish priest commanding respect. Until she was charged, most of Singapore did not know who she was.”
“The accused believed it (the usage of the funds) was for an evangelistic purpose that was positively mandated by the vision and mission of CHC.”
11.55am: Serina Wee’s lawyer Andre Maniam said: “This is an unprecedented case. Neither the prosecution nor the defence has been able to turn up a precedent when Criminal Breach of Trust was committed by using a charity’s funds for its own purposes. We are in uncharted waters.”
11.17am: Lawyer N Sreenivasan: “Insofar as personal relationships are concerned, Tan Ye Peng’s former close relationship with Chew Eng Han has been affected. He feels sorry for what happened to Sharon and Serina.”
“He is not, he is not a participant in the heist of the century or other emotional words the prosecution has used.”
Source: ByCity Harvest trial live updates: Leaders sentenced to jail Published 20/11/2015 07:48, UPDATED: 20/11/2015 15:50. (Accessed 20/11/2015.)