COC agrees to defer removal proceedings against City Harvest Church leaders

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has agreed to defer the removal proceedings of eight City Harvest Church leaders, including church founder Kong Hee (above), from office till after a criminal trial involving six of them has ended. -- ST FILE PHOTO
The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has agreed to defer the removal proceedings of eight City Harvest Church leaders, including church founder Kong Hee (above), from office till after a criminal trial involving six of them has ended. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) has agreed to defer the removal proceedings of eight City Harvest Church leaders from office till after a criminal trial involving six of them has ended.

The Commissioner did so after his office received requests from seven of them, the church board as well as some church members. The seven who had asked for the deferment are: church founder Kong Hee, board chairman and trustee John Lam Leng Hung, vice-chairman and trustee Tan Ye Peng, executive director of the church's administration division Kelvin Teo Meng How, and executive members Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, Jacqueline Tan Su Pheng and Serina Wee Gek Yin.

Another executive member, Chew Eng Han, did not request an extension, as he had already submitted his representations to the COC's office last month. He has since left the church. Six of them, including Kong, face charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in an on-going trial, which is expected to go on till next year.

All eight were suspended from office following an inquiry by the Commissioner which showed that there was mismanagement of funds at the church - in particular at least $23 million used to fund the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun.

The Commissioner then launched a bid to discharge the eight from office, and they were given a month to submit their objections in writing, after which the Commissioner will assess their cases.

On Thursday, COC said the church "has undertaken that it would not engage the eight individuals for any management or executive role within the Charity".

An order under the Charities Act has also been issued to the church to provide regular updates on its key activities and financial position "for close monitoring", said the Commissioner's office.

After the trial ends, the suspended church leaders can make representations and the COC will decide if they should be removed from office.