Singapore Pastor Convicted of Funds Misuse for Pop Star Wifeby
Those accused `knew they had something to hide': judge
Kong Hee's bail set at S$1 million; next hearing on Nov. 20
The founder of Singapore’s City Harvest Church was convicted for his role in misusing S$50 million ($36 million) of church funds for his wife’s pop music career. His bail was set at S$1 million.
Prosecutors had accused Kong, 51, and five others of conspiring to misuse the funds and using sham bond deals in the city’s largest graft case involving a charity. All were found guilty in court on Wednesday. The church, which has seen the number of its followers dwindle by about a quarter since the probe started in 2010, has said it stands by the six.
“The accused persons chose to engage in covert operations and conspiratorial cover-ups,” Presiding Judge See Kee Oon said in a packed courtroom in Singapore. “There is no doubt that they knew that they had something to hide.”
Kong will be sentenced at a later date and faces a jail term of as long as 20 years for each of the three charges. His lawyer Edwin Tong told reporters it was too early to assess if the pastor will appeal his conviction. The verdict caps a 140-day trial that started in 2013. The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
While the funds were later returned to the church and the accused made no financial gain, they can’t be exonerated “no matter how pure the motive,” Judge See said.
The criminal case is Prosecutor v Kong Hee. DAC023148/2012. Singapore State Courts.