Pastor Kong Hee’s trial has the Singapore megachurch leader and his wife, Sun Ho, asking for “prayer” during this time. Kong, deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng, finance manager Sharon Tan, and former finance managers Serina Wee, Sharon Tan, and John Lam have all been found guilty of embezzling $35.5 million in church donations from Singapore’s City Harvest Church in order to support Sun Ho’s Christian music career. The sentencing phase of the trial is coming up, and it’s possible they all might face up to 20 years in prison.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, resigned from his Florida megachurch after having an affair.
The judge found Pastor Kong Hee guilty of tax evasion and embezzlement in 2014 and subsequently had the megachurch pastor jailed. It is said the six men misused $17 million from the City Harvest Church’s building fund to further the music career of Kong Hee’s wife, Sun Ho, through the “Crossover Project,” a ministry aimed at supporting Christian music in the secular music industry.
“Each of them participated and functioned in their own way as crucial cogs in the machinery,” said the judge.
In addition, $18.5 million was used to cover up the fraud using bonds and other techniques where the church paid debts owed to it using the megachurch’s own money. The bonds were invested into the management company Xtron, which was in charge of managing Sun Ho’s music career, although the church leaders had argued that Xtron is a legitimate company. The judge did not find the arguments by the defense to be convincing.
“They claim that they believed the Xtron bonds were genuine investments. They believed the Xtron bonds would bring CHC financial return,” the judge continued. “But on my evaluation of the evidence I consider that the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they did not hold that belief.”
Sun Ho, who wasn’t on trial herself in the fraud case, posted a statement on behalf of the jailed megachurch leaders, noting that Kong Hee and the others were “disappointed” by the outcome.
“As was the case throughout these past three years of court trial, and the earlier two years of investigation, we have placed our faith in God and trust that whatever the outcome, He will use it for our good (Romans 8:28). This protracted season has been extremely difficult, not just for the six, but also for all their families and friends, as well as for our congregation,” Ho wrote.
The megachurch pastor maintains his innocence and claims that the Crossover Project was intended to be supported by the church in order to spread the Christian music through the world. The judge says the “perceived success of Crossover was inflated” and believes the men acted in a dishonest fashion.
“It may be arguable that all of them thought they were not acting dishonestly to cause wrongful loss since no permanent loss was intended, but this was premised on their unquestioning trust and belief in Kong Hee and their confidence that the Crossover would succeed,” the judge said, according to the Christian Post. “Thus they convinced themselves that it was both morally and legally permissible to temporarily use the money from CHC’s funds when they knew it was not.”
In response, pastor Kong Hee has posted a new Facebook message asking for prayer.
“My family and I are continually assured and strengthened by the love and support shown to us during this entire time. We thank you for your prayers and encouragement, as they mean a lot to us. Please keep praying for me and those involved in the trial, for our families, and especially for the congregation of City Harvest Church, which I love so dearly with all my heart,” he wrote. “The days and steps ahead are challenging, but with God’s grace and love, I have no fear. The Lord Jesus, my Good Shepherd, will lead and guide. I will obey, I will follow, by faith.”
Kong Hee and Sun Ho founded the City Harvest Church in 1989. A sentencing date has not been announced, but he faces up to 20 years in prison.