Criminal trial against six City Harvest Church leaders may stretch into 2014

The trial against the six City Harvest Church leaders accused of embezzling more than $50 million, may stretch beyond 2013.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong told The Straits Times on Friday that provisions are being made for a third leg of the hearing, likely to be early next year.

The trial begins next Wednesday, with the second leg scheduled from August to September this year.

The prosecution's three witnesses for first leg include Ms Lai Baoting, a former accounts staff member of the church, Ms Angie Koh, an employee in a firm that handles the church's accounts, and Mr Koh Siow Ngea, director of Xtron Productions.

Xtron was the artist management firm for founding pastor Kong Hee's wife, Ho Yeow Sun - which allegedly had millions in church funds siphoned into it. The prosecution's other witnesses may also include officers from the Commercial Affairs Department, who handled the probe.

The six leaders are alleged to have funnelled $24 million into sham bond investments to further the music career of Ms Ho. They are also said to have misappropriated another $26.6 million to cover up the first sum.