Five years ago, Singapore’s National Kidney Foundation’s former chief executive officer, TT Duria was sentenced to three months in jail for misusing charity funds with a false invoice. The fraud was discovered after an audit of the kidney foundation found several shortcomings.
It was a lesson for all Singaporeans, that fraud, breach of trust, and falsification will never be taken lightly.
Yet, just yesterday, another giant fraud-fueled drama took the island down South by storm – and this time, it involves the founder of Singapore’s City Harvest Church.
On 26th June 2012 (Tuesday), MediaCorp’s Channel NewsAsia reported that Pastor Kong Hee was arrested for alleged criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts of City Harvest Church (CHC). But he wasn’t alone. There were four other members who were taken under arrest and into questioning – John Tan Yee Peng, Lam Leng Ham, Chew Eng Ham, and Sharon Tan.
The apparent misconduct and mismanagement of the church funds were first spotted by the Commissioner of Charities (COC), which led to a thorough investigation by Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD). After which, they found financial irregularities of at least S$24 million from the charity’s funds were used with the purported intention to finance the music career of Ho Yeow Sun (Pastor Kong Hee’s pop star wife and co-founder of CHC Singapore).
On the 27th June 2012 (Wednesday), Pastor Kong Hee was charged with three counts of dishonestly using the charity’s funds. Prosecutor Christopher Ong, who was present at the hearing, told a Singapore Subordinate Court, “Kong Hee had also conspired with others to conceal the diversion of the funds”.
Digging deeper, we spoke to a source from CHC who declined to be named and she said, “CHC was always aware of these use of funds, mostly for our ‘Crossover Project’. The ‘Crossover Project’ is basically the use of music through concerts to reach out to non-Christians. It was a platform for Pastor Kong Hee’s wife to share her testimony.”
If found guilty for each of his criminal charges, Pastor Kong Hee may face the punishment of a life imprisonment term, or a jail term of as long as 20 years and a fine.
Food for thought? We’ll leave it up to the Singapore’s Court and authorities to decide.