CHC member alleged defamation in report

City Harvest Church (CHC) member writes to MCYS to complain of Commissioner of Charities statements.

CHC member writes to MCYS alleging defamation

A City Harvest Church member, Christopher Pang, has written to Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth & Sports Chan Chun Sing alleging that the Commissioner of Charities’ statement on the misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity is defamatory.

Speaking up for the five leaders who were charged in court on Wednesday, Mr Pang claimed that the statement is defamatory, and asked for an apology from the Commissioner of Charities.

He asserted that as a society, the church does not owe members of the public any account of how its funds are used, yet audited accounts are posted on the church’s website for transparency and accountability.

He added that he was not supportive of the move by the Commissioner of Charities to suspend eight church leaders from their offices.

He is particular about the word usage and allegations among others:

There was even an attempt to conceal the existence of this Account by closing the joint bank account and dealing only in cash transactions, which was kept in a safe at the Charity.

Blah blah.

Really?

Of all that was in the report, subject is scrutinizing it over possible defamations? The point of the report is much more than that. Christians in general will not want to be prejudiced over an incident as tiny as City Harvest Church incident; subject should not pick on work processes done incorrectly as he alleged. His allegations act as a poor diversion to the bigger picture — a charitable organization has mismanaged a large sum of money. While he can continue to be upset of over possible defamations, no charity organization should let the mismanagement incident slide and work on improving their accountability among charities.

Pastor Kong Hee charged

Five senior members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including its founder Kong Hee, have been charged in court for alleged criminal breach of trust. The three charges they faced are:

  1. Sham transactions to fund Sun Ho’s music endeavor
  2. Series of transactions to clear (1), round tipping
  3. Covering of tracks

Continue reading “Pastor Kong Hee charged”

Where did the 23 million go?

With regards to the City Harvest Church inquiry, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) commenced investigations into financial transactions involving several individuals and companies, related or connected to the City Harvest Church (Charity). Misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the Charity is uncovered.

Key notes:

  • Financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the Charity’s funds have been discovered. These funds were used with the purported intention to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.
  • There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders.
  • The following persons from the exercise of their office or employment as governing board members, officers, agents or employees of the Charity are suspended with immediate effect:
    1. Kong Hee (Member of the Charity’s Board and Executive Member);
    2. Lam Leng Hung (Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Agent and Executive Member);
    3. Tan Ye Peng (Vice-Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Employee, Agent and Executive Member);
    4. Tan Shao Yuen Sharon (Employee and Executive Member);
    5. Chew Eng Han (Agent and Executive Member);
    6. Ho Yeow Sun (Agent and Executive Member);
    7. Kelvin Teo Meng How (Agent, Employee and Executive Member); and
    8. Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline (Employee and Executive Member).

Ho Yeow Sun (or Sun Ho) music endeavor

In 2002, the Charity’s founders, Kong Hee and Ho Yeow Sun (“Sun Ho”), embarked on a “Crossover Project” [“the Project”], with the purported intention to use Sun Ho’s secular music to connect with people and reach out to non-Christians.

Despite the representations made by the Charity and unknown to the Executive Members, the Charity’s funds were used to fund the Project. Over a period of 3 years (2007 to 2010), at least $23 million was used. However, during this period of time, the Executive members were not told of the actual purpose of the use of these funds.

Between December 2007 and May 2010, the Charity’s funds were used to finance the Project under the guise of donations to its affiliated church in Kuala Lumpur, known as the City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur [“CHCKL”]. The funds were then transmitted by CHCKL to support the Project in the United States. During this period, at least $2.1 million was transferred from the Charity to CHCKL to fund the Project.

In addition, donations and tithes to the Charity were transferred into a private fund known as the Multi-Purpose Account [“MPA”]

For the period April 2007 to March 2010, the funds were used for purported expenditures of Kong Hee and Sun Ho, amounting to approximately $600,000 and $3 million respectively.

In or around April 2009, a plan was conceptualised by Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, Serina Wee Gek Yin and Tan Shao Yuen Sharon to transfer monies amounting to $600,000 donated by Wahju Hanafi to the Charity’s Building Fund via a “refund” of Building Fund donations into the MPA to meet some funding needs of the Project, which included US$100,000 to finance a media team from Singapore to publicise and write about Sun Ho’s music career in the United States.

Source: MCYS

Summary of misappropriation

  • at least $23 million was used, over a period of 3 years (2007 to 2010),
  • at least $2.1 million was transferred from the City Harvest Church to City Harvest Church Kuala Lumpur to fund the “Crossover Project,”
  • Kong Hee expenditure: $600,000,
  • Sun Ho expenditure: $3 million,
  • transfer monies amounting to $600,000 donated by Wahju Hanafi to the Charity’s Building Fund,
  • US$100,000 to finance a media team from Singapore to publicise and write about Sun Ho’s music career in the United States,
  • Love gifts,
  • Kong Hee’s company sold over $3 million worth of merchandise to the City Harvest Church,
  • However, in 2008, Kong Hee “refunded” royalties to the Charity amounting to approximately $770,000,
  • Chew Eng Han suffered financial difficulties, the Charity refunded donations amounting to about $338,000 to him in two separate tranches, i.e. $240,000 and $98,000. However, in respect of the $98,000, the Charity’s Board only gave approval for the refund of donations to Chew Eng Han 9 months after the refunds were made.

This is not the first time a charity, in this case City Harvest Church (CHC), was scrutinized, previously there was the National Kidney Foundation as well as Ren Ci.

City Harvest’s Kong Hee arrested

Latest after the Commercial Affairs Department probed into the alleged misuse of church funds in May 2010, this has led to the arrest of the pastors:

City Harvest church founder Kong Hee and 4 others arrested

City Harvest church founder Kong Hee and four others from his ministry were arrested by the police on Tuesday morning, two years after investigations first began into the homegrown church.

Mr Kong, deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng and three other church leaders were picked up by the police at their homes early on Tuesday morning and taken in for questioning over the alleged misuse of church funds as well as alleged breaches under charity laws.

Source: Straits Times

And on Channel News Asia:

CAD arrests 5 City Harvest Church members, including Pastor Kong Hee

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean has stressed that the charges filed by CAD are against the five individuals from the City Harvest Church regarding the use of church funds.

He said the charges are not filed against CHC itself and the church is free to continue its church services and activities.

Mr Teo added that CAD carries out investigations when it receives information that a criminal offence may have been committed.

Sun Ho has not been arrested but is suspended from her position as an Executive Member of the Church. Story is still developing.

Ho Yeow Sun called in to assist police

Some updates from Channel News Asia:

Over 18 people from City Harvest Church called up in probe so far

SINGAPORE : More than 18 people from City Harvest Church, including pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, have been called up so far to help police investigations into the alleged misuse of funds at the church.

Founder Kong Hee and 16 others were questioned on May 31.

MediaCorp understands that others have also been called in since then.

The police probe into the church concerns specific incidents that could involve the possible falsification of accounts and criminal breach of trust, involving millions of dollars and transactions that date back years. (Source: Channel News Asia)

Other notes from The Straits Times:

TNP said Ms Ho, 40, had flown in from the US on Monday, and was called in to assist police with their investigation into the finances of City Harvest Church. She was at the Police Cantonment Complex from about 10 am to 6.30pm and was questioned by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department. (Source: Straits Times)

When would this end, I wonder.

CHC ordinary members cannot attend AGMs

It appears that normal church members of City Harvest Church (CHC) are not allowed to be present in their general meetings despite being entitled to as CHC is registered as a society too. I’ve attached the relevant news article for your reading:

Ordinary members ‘have no right to attend general meetings’

According to City Harvest Church’s (CHC) constitution, which MediaCorp has obtained a copy of, ordinary church members have “no right to attend General Meetings”.

Only executive members – such as pastors, the board of directors and cell group leaders who have served at least three years – are entitled to do so.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said that while it encourages members to comply with the Code, it is a voluntary association and each member determines its own policy and action.

CHC is a member of NCCS.

NCCS does not oversee its members’ financial matters, said its general secretary Lim K Tham.

Whether members are able to attend AGMs depends on how their church is incorporated, he added.

Members of churches registered as societies are entitled to attend AGMs. City Harvest is registered as a society and a charity.

Some churches are, however, registered as companies limited by guarantee, and whether members are allowed to attend AGMs would rest on a document called a memorandum of association – which sets out the contract between the organisation and its members, said Mr Lim. (Read more coverage at Today Online)

City Harvest Church funds allegedly misused

This case has gotten rather big this couple of days. Several people linked to City Harvest Church has been investigated for a possible misuse of church funds. There are even rumors that Senior Pastor Kong Hee and his singer wife Sun Ho are having troubles with their marriage due to issues relating to this issue.

Church people under investigation

THE police rounded up several people linked to City Harvest Church for alleged misuse of church funds. The 17 who are assisting the police with investigations include the megachurch’s founder, Senior Pastor Kong Hee, who was picked up on May 31.

The police also took away financial records and computers from the homes and offices of the people involved. They did not say what offences they were investigating.

A joint statement from the Commissioner of Charities and the Commercial Affairs Department said they were investigating “several individuals and companies, related or connected” to the church. The four-paragraph statement said the commissioner had received complaints about the misuse of church funds. It had looked into the matter and decided that the police should become involved.

Responding to queries, the commissioner said the financial transactions being investigated were not related to, nor initiated by, the church’s controversial $310 million stake in Suntec City, which was announced in March. (Source: Asia One)

City Harvest Church is Singapore’s largest and possibly most successful church.

What do you think would happen to the church?