SINGAPORE - The six individuals from City Harvest Church (CHC) - including founder Kong Hee - convicted of misusing millions in church funds, have been permanently barred from having overall administrative control of any charity.
In a statement on Wednesday (May 24), the Office of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) said the permanent disqualification under the Charities Act "has a similar effect as a removal order, and would suffice to protect the charitable assets of the charity from the six convicted individuals, since they can no longer hold any governance or management positions in the charity".
The six are Kong, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former CHC finance committee member John Lam, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han and former CHC finance managers Serina Wee and Sharon Tan.
In November 2015, they were handed jail terms ranging from 21 months to eight years in the largest case of misuse of charitable funds in Singapore history for criminal breach of trust (CBT) and falsification of accounts.
On April 7 this year, following appeals by both sides, the six were still found guilty of CBT, albeit a less serious form, and had their jail terms slashed to between seven months and 3½ years.
All except Chew started serving their jail terms on April 21.
The COC first issued a restriction order in 2012 to prohibit the church from paying the legal fees of the six as well as Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and two others.
Following the conclusion of the criminal appeal, the COC reviewed the removal proceedings, which resumed in November 2015, under the Charities Act regarding seven individuals including Kong, Lam, Tan Ye Peng, Sharon Tan and Serina Wee.
"As part of the COC's review of the removal proceedings, it is a pertinent consideration that the offences which the Six Convicted Individuals were convicted of, namely criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts, involve dishonesty and/or deception.
"Pursuant to section 27(1)(a) of the Act, the six convicted individuals are thus permanently disqualified, under operation of law, from being a governing board member or key officer of a charity or a trustee for a charity as they have been convicted of offences involving dishonesty or deception."