Saturday, 30 June 2012

Church members say they back their leaders

Giving an example, Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the National University of Singapore Business School, said: ‘If I man a till, and I decided to take the money in the till to spend on myself, and the next day I put back the money, it is still criminal breach of trust.’

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Guanyu 道 said...

Church members say they back their leaders

By NG KAI LING and BRYNA SIM
30 June 2012

While five City Harvest Church leaders have been charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT) as an agent, many of the congregants interviewed appear to be supportive of them.

On Wednesday, founding pastor Kong Hee and four others were charged with conspiracy to commit CBT as an agent under section 409.

Court documents state that $26.6 million was allegedly used to cover up an initial $24 million which they had taken from the church’s building fund and put into sham investments.

These investments in turn were alleged to have been used to finance the music career of Kong’s wife, pop-star Ho Yeow Sun.

According to the Penal Code, CBT happens when a person, entrusted with a certain property, purposefully and dishonestly failed to carry out what was expected of him.

Giving an example, Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the National University of Singapore Business School, said: ‘If I man a till, and I decided to take the money in the till to spend on myself, and the next day I put back the money, it is still criminal breach of trust.’

But even before the case goes to trial, some congregants have stated online and elsewhere that they have no problem with the use of church funds to finance Ms Ho’s music career.

They said it was the church’s intention to reach a wider audience through her music.

Said marketing specialist Charlene Sng, 26: ‘When I gave, I believed I was sowing in God’s kingdom and I trust the pastors to use the money in whatever way it should be used.’

Lawyers, however, pointed out that the issues before the court have nothing to do with whether or not the congregants mind how the church used their money, but whether they had been properly informed of what the money collected was for, and how it would be used.

A lawyer said that it is for the prosecution to prove that the five accused had actively misled church members to think that the money was going to be used on the church but was instead spent elsewhere.

She explained that if proven that the money was not used as it was intended, a crime had been committed.