City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, 4 others charged

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, 47, and four senior members of his church have been offered bail of $500,000 each following a brief turn in court on Wednesday morning. Their passports were also impounded.

Kong faced three criminal charges - for committing criminal breach of trust as an agent - with each charge carrying the punishment of a life imprisonment term, or imprisonment for up to 20 years, and a fine.

Like him, John Lam Leng Hung, 44, a church board member also faced three similar charges.

The remaining three - Kong's deputy, Tan Ye Peng, 39, church finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, 37, and investment manager Chew Eng Han, in his 50s - faced more charges.

Chew and Tan each faced 10 charges - six for criminal breach of trust and four for falsifying accounts - an offence which draws the maximum 10-year jail term and/or fine.

The woman was charged with four counts of falsifying accounts and three for committing criminal breach of trust as an agent.

They are due to return to court in four weeks' time, on July 25.

Kong arrived at court at 8.50am with his wife Sun Ho.

The case, the biggest involving misconduct at a registered charity in Singapore, revolves around $23 million in church funds that was allegedly used to finance the secular music career of Kong's wife, pop singer Ho, from 2007 to 2010.

In a show of support for Kong and the others, about 200 church members came to the Subordinate Courts as well.

City Harvest later issued a statement, posted on the church's website. Signed off by executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain, it said that the next mention date for the five who have been charged is July 25, and the church is not in a position to comment further as the matter is before the courts.

The statement added that church operations and cell group meetings will continue as usual, including all weekend services at Singapore Expo and Jurong West.