Church arm spent $2.5m on charity

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB OF WWW.CHCSA.ORG.SG

Around $2.5 million was spent on charitable causes over the past three years by City Harvest Community Services Association (CHCSA), the social service arm of City Harvest Church (CHC).

Church members say this is proof of the continued good that the church has been doing in society.

An independent society started in 1996, CHCSA is part-funded by CHC. Its programmes target the elderly, youth and the terminally ill.

According to its financial statements, it spent about $1 million each year over the last two financial years on its charitable programmes and activities. The year before that, from November 2011 to October 2012, it spent $537,454.

However, it is not known what percentage of CHC's income is spent on social causes because its financial statements are still not available on the Government's Charity Portal.

When asked, a church spokesman said this was because audits were still ongoing after the trial of its six church leaders, which ended with them - including founder Kong Hee, 51 - being convicted of misusing church funds.

The spokesman said: "A significant portion of the issues brought up in the trial were accounting- and audit-related, therefore the ongoing audit of the church's financial statements will inevitably take much longer than normal."

While CHC has spent money on charity, it has also made some, in at least one of its investments.

It has an indirect stake of 39.2 per cent in Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, where it holds its weekly services. The property was valued at about $661 million in December last year by property consultant Colliers. CHC spent $97.75 million from 2010 to 2011 to acquire its share of the property, now worth close to $260 million.

At the same time, it continues to receive dividends from owning the property. Based on figures from Suntec Reit's third-quarter financial report, the church's share of the property should entitle it to $4.9 million in dividends from January to September this year.

The figure is two-thirds higher than the $2.9 million it should have received from the property in the same period last year.

Danson Cheong

  • Additional reporting by Priscilla Goy
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Church arm spent $2.5m on charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe