Yahoo! News reports…
“Six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders were at the High Court on Thursday (15 September) to appeal against their convictions for misappropriating church funds.
CHC founder Kong Hee, his deputy Tan Ye Peng, ex-secretary of the management board John Lam, ex-board member Chew Eng Han, and ex-finance managers Sharon Tan and Serina Wee appeared before a panel of three judges to argue against their conviction and jail terms ranging between 21 months and eight years.
The prosecution for the case is appealing for longer deterrent sentences for the six, who were found guilty on charges including criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts in October last year. They were convicted for misappropriating $50 million in church funds to aid the pop music career of Kong’s wife, Sun Ho.
Ho and members of the church attended the hearing on Thursday. Clad in a white blouse and black jacket, Ho, known for her “China Wine” hit single, sat quietly in the public gallery and listened intently during the proceedings.
Appearing before Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Justices Woo Bih Li and Chan Seng Oon, Kong’s lawyer, Edwin Tong, said that his client is innocent and argued that the pastor had not acted dishonestly.
Tong said that the eight years’ jail term for Kong was excessive and added, “He had not gained anything and there was no intention by him or the other accused persons to cause a loss (in the church’s building fund).”
The lawyer pointed out that his client was especially meticulous when it came to the budget for his wife’s album. The cost of the album was decided by the US-based producer of the album, Tong added.
Earlier on, Lam’s lawyer, Kenneth Tan, said that his client was being used to facilitate the fraud without Lam knowing about it.
Tan argued that his client was a volunteer with the church and did not have inside information of the plans to siphon money from the church to aid Ho’s music career. He added that his client thought that the money taken from the church’s building fund was being invested in Xtron, a music production company, and Firna, a glass maker.
“He honestly thought that the bonds were genuine investments with risks. Investments with a lot of risk are still a genuine form of investment,” Tan said.
During the hearing, there was a light-hearted moment after Tan addressed the court for three hours in the morning, which prompted the prosecutors to request for the court to grant a break for the transcriber. In response, Judge Chao quipped: “Maybe we can have a ten-minute break and say some prayers.”