City Harvest Church case

6 convicted barred from control of any charity

COC: Permanent disqualification, similar to removal order, is to protect church assets

The six individuals convicted of misusing millions of City Harvest Church (CHC) funds, including church founder Kong Hee, are permanently barred from holding key positions that allow them to have administrative control of the church or any other charity.

In a statement yesterday , the office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) said the permanent disqualification under the Charities Act "has a similar effect as a removal order". It would protect the assets of the church from the six, since they cannot hold any governing or management positions.

Separately, the COC issued a new restriction order that prohibits the church from employing the six and two others without the commissioner's prior approval. "This is to ensure that the charitable assets of CHC are safeguarded at all times," said the statement.

The six convicted are Kong, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former CHC finance committee member John Lam, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han and former CHC finance managers Serina Wee and Sharon Tan.

In 2015, they were convicted of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and falsification of accounts and given jail terms ranging from 21 months to eight years. On April 7, after appeals from both sides, the six were still deemed guilty of CBT, albeit a less serious form, and had their jail terms slashed to between seven months and 31/2 years.

All except Chew started serving their jail terms on April 21.

Following the conclusion of the appeal, the COC, which had agreed to defer the removals until the criminal proceedings were over, removed seven individuals from the church. They included five of the six, as well as Mr Kelvin Teo Meng How and Ms Jacqueline Tan Su Pheng, who were executive members in the charity. Chew left the church during the trial.

The COC said the six convicted are permanently disqualified, under the law, from being a governing board member or key officer of a charity or a trustee for a charity as they have been convicted of offences involving dishonesty or deception. Mr Teo and Ms Jacqueline Tan, who were noted to be "comparatively less culpable" than the convicted six, were let off with stern warnings.

Previous restriction orders, issued since 2012, to stop the church from paying legal fees for the eight and for services to the individuals and their related entities without the COC's approval, remain in force.

The restrictions relating to Kong' wife, singer Ho Yeow Sun, were removed in May 2013.


What it should have been

The report yesterday, "City Harvest Church case: 6 convicted barred from control of any charity", stated that "Following the conclusion of the appeal, the COC, which had agreed to defer the removals until the criminal proceedings were over, removed seven individuals from the church."

This sentence is incorrect. It should read: "Following the conclusion of the appeal, the COC, which had agreed to defer the removals until the criminal proceedings were over, reviewed the removal proceedings of seven individuals from the church."

We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2017, with the headline '6 convicted barred from control of any charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe