Church leaders file notices of appeal

(Top row, from left to right) Serina Wee, Chew Eng Han, and Sharon Tan. (Bottom row, from left to right) Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng and John Lam.
(Top row, from left to right) Serina Wee, Chew Eng Han, and Sharon Tan. (Bottom row, from left to right) Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng and John Lam.PHOTO: REUTERS

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five other church leaders sentenced to jail in Singapore's biggest charity financial scandal filed notices of appeal yesterday.

All six have indicated they will fight both the guilty verdicts and the length of their sentences.

A 142-day trial ended last month with the six convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. Kong Hee, described by Judge See Kee Oon as the mastermind behind the conspiracy to misuse $50 million of church money to turn his wife into a global pop star and cover up the misdeed, was sentenced to eight years in prison - the longest of the six.

The rest were handed jail terms ranging from six years to 21 months.

Last week, the prosecution called the sentences "manifestly inadequate" and revealed its decision to appeal. In Kong Hee's case, for instance, the prosecution had asked for a jail term of 11 to 12 years.

Yesterday afternoon, all six turned up at the State Courts, with Kong Hee the first to arrive. Several of them explained that the prosecution's move to ask for heavier punishments played a part in the decision to appeal.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'Church leaders file notices of appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe