3rd man in City Harvest case allowed to travel

A THIRD man in the City Harvest Church saga has successfully applied to travel overseas.

Deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng, who is among six senior members of the church charged with criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts, will go on a four-day mission trip to Indonesia this month.

The 39-year-old is the third defendant to have sought approval for overseas travel after Chew Eng Han, the church's investment manager, and founding pastor Kong Hee.

Tan's bail amount has been doubled to $1 million, similar to what Chew and Kong had to put up.

Chew, 52, had said at the end of August that he was going overseas for personal reasons, while Kong, 47, whose application to travel was granted in July, is believed to have flown to the United States and Taiwan for church events.

Tan was the only one of the six accused to show up in court yesterday for the second pre-trial conference, where lawyers exchange information or evidence with the prosecution.

Looking relaxed, he told The Straits Times that he has been carrying on with church work and his family has been supportive. He is married with four children.

"I'm continuing my pastoral duties, and will be doing some teaching in our affiliated churches overseas," he said.

The case centres on the six senior church figures allegedly funnelling $24 million in church building funds to sham bond investments.

This was apparently to conceal the diversion of money to finance the career of Kong's wife, singer Ho Yeow Sun, 42.

The six also allegedly conspired to use another $26.6 million of church funds to repay the sums owed. The transactions reportedly occurred between August 2007 and November 2009.

Kong and former church management board member John Lam Leng Hung, 44, each face three charges of criminal breach of trust.

Tan, church finance manager Sharon Tan, 36, former finance manager Serina Wee, 35, and Chew face between seven and 10 charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts.

All six, whose passports were impounded, have indicated that they are likely to plead not guilty and will claim trial.

The next pre-trial conference, believed to be the last meeting before the case goes to trial, has been scheduled for Nov 22.

brynasim@sph.com.sgjennanid@sph.com.sg