Pastor arrested over misuse of $18m

2012-06-26 16:47

Singapore - The founder of one of Singapore's richest churches was arrested on Tuesday on allegations of misusing at least $18m in donations from his congregation of more than 30 000, police said.

Pastor Kong Hee and four senior executives of the City Harvest Church - a Christian group registered as a charity - were arrested by the Commercial Affairs Department, a police unit set up to fight financial crime.

Officials said they were suspected of diverting at least $18m earmarked for charitable projects and spent money on a bid by the pastor's wife, Ho Yeow Sun, to launch an evangelical music career in the United States.

The church, which has affiliates in neighbouring Malaysia and other countries, is famous for services that resemble pop concerts.

"It's confirmed that five persons were arrested and Kong Hee is one of them," a police spokesperson said.

All five, who are out on bail, have also been suspended from their church positions.

Two-year investigation

Kong and his wife, whose whereabouts were unknown, became minor celebrities in Singapore for launching the church, which authorities estimate had a congregation of about 33 000 and net assets of $80m in 2009.

In a post on popular microblogging site Twitter on Tuesday morning, Kong tweeted a Bible Psalm in Mandarin saying God will protect him from evil.

Authorities began an investigation in 2010 after receiving complaints about the misuse of the funds, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, which oversees charitable institutions, said in a press release.

"Financial irregularities of at least Sg$23 million [$18m] from the Charity's funds have been discovered," it said.

"There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders."

The five will be charged in court on Wednesday and if convicted, each of them could face life imprisonment as well as a fine.

Church officials contacted by AFP did not comment.

In 2009, a prominent Buddhist monk heading one of Singapore's largest charities was jailed for six months for misappropriating hospital funds and lying about it to authorities.

  • charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-06-26 16:56

    I don't think a pastor would behave in such a manner, I think this was an atheist trojan, infiltrating the good church :)

      vessela.hobson - 2012-06-26 17:43

      sure, facts don't agree with you -> deny. it's what you guys are best at ;)

      jack.oosthuysen - 2012-06-26 17:45

      There is a strong correlation between his actions and our leaders in this country. Power is dangerous in the wrong hands, Kong.

  • zaatheist - 2012-06-26 19:13

    YAAAAAAAAAAAWN! Only to be expected. Just another Mammon loving, crooked, immoral, hypocritical Christian preacherman. And yet the gullible suckers keep queuing up to throw money at these self-appointed representatives of an imaginary deity who grants wished. PAH!

      Squeegee - 2012-06-26 20:06

      Didn't take you long to crawl out of your hole.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-26 20:23

      squeegee.pilot You have a problem? You like the pastor do you? Nothing like a good Christian hey? Like Hansie the cheating smuck. No he's a good man. So he stole $18 million but that's ok. He's a Christian. I am amazed and amused that you do not condemn him yourself.

      Squeegee - 2012-06-26 20:38

      My dear little troll. I condemn the action of anyone who commits any crime. Some of them will invariably be priests, pastors and church leaders. This is sad and regrettable. However, Christians don't claim to be perfect they claim to be forgiven. The problem is that you lie in wait and attack with glee anyone in any way associated to any faith. You are undoubtedly the most intolerant troll here.

      zaatheist - 2012-06-27 04:19

      squeegee.pilot So he will be forgiven will he? Christianity, in most of its many forms, is in fact a totally immoral dogma. The claim that one can behave like a total selfish and uncaring bastard towards your fellows during the week, go to church on Sunday, toss a sufficiency of money towards the preacherman and be absolved, and not have to take responsibility for, one's despicable behaviour is a totally immoral, disgusting and contemptible concept.

      fredster.mania.5 - 2012-06-27 07:32

      Zaatheist ...vomiting your self centered viewpoint at Christians again? If you have never done anything wrong, then yes...go ahead

  • heinrich.venter.9 - 2012-06-27 08:14

    It seems fame got the best of him like it would with ,well, most other people, and blinded him...funny that bankers and company CEO's don't get targeted by the media like this...

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-06-27 08:26

      Really????? Either you don't pay attention or are ill informed .Companies have control measures like firing those that do not perform unlike churches and govt.

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