Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Serina Wee in the Hall of Shame of City Harvest Church Financial Scandal

A sequel to this post, "City Harvest Church Kong Hee arrested. Yay? Yay!", another new name, Serina Wee, is to be added to the Hall of Shame.

More info on the scandal, do refer to this CNA article, "A look into the City Harvest Church saga".

City Harvest Church executive, Serina Wee, is the sixth and the latest person in the financial scandal case to be charged.

She was read 10 charges - six related to criminal breach of trust and four to falsifying accounts.

She joins five others, including founder Kong Hee, who were earlier charged with misusing church funds.

The 35-year-old was the first to arrive amongst the defendants, wearing a black dress and sunglasses.

She was accompanied by her husband and her lawyers.

Court papers said she was involved in a conspiracy to misappropriate millions of dollars of church funds which were allegedly channelled into bond investments.

It's been charged that these were in fact "sham transactions" devised to conceal the diversion of the church's building fund, to finance the pop music career of Sun Ho, the wife of Kong Hee.

She allegedly instigated a church accountant to record false entries in the church books on four occasions.

In court with Wee were the five other church members who had been charged earlier.

They are City Harvest founder Kong Hee, senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, investment manager Chew Eng Han, finance manager Sharon Tan, and board member Lam Leng Hung.

From as early as 7.30am on Wednesday, City Harvest Church supporters started to gather at the carpark outside the Subordinate Courts.

They began to stream into court at around 8am.

Within a span of 15 minutes, a snaking queue of more than 50 people formed outside the court where the cases of five members of the church, including its founder, would be mentioned.

The case will be mentioned again on August 30 for a pre-trial conference.

Kong Hee is represented by Mr Edwin Tong, while the rest have engaged senior counsel.
From Channel NewsAsia, "6th City Harvest Church executive charged".

City Harvest Church's (CHC) ex-finance chief Serina Wee, 35, was charged this morning, making her the sixth person to face criminal charges over the alleged siphoning of church funds.

The Straits Times reported that Wee faces six charges of criminal breach of trust and four for falsifying accounts.

Her bail has been set at $500,000.

The other five charged so far are founding pastor Kong Hee, 47; church management board member John Lam Leng Hung, 44; Kong's deputy Tan Ye Peng, 39; church finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, 36; and investment manager Chew Eng Han, 52.

Prosecutors believe that at least $23 million was invested in alleged sham transactions to fund the pop music career of Kong's wife, Sun Ho.

The funds were said to have been put into a $13 million bond investment with Xtron Productions, while $11 million was allegedly put into another company called PT The First National Glassware.

It is believed that some of the accused also conspired to misappropriate another $26.6 million of church funds so that it would seem like the alleged sham bond investments were redeemed. This is called 'round-tripping'.

Kong arrived at the Subordinate Court at 8.55am this morning for a second mention of the high-profile case, which first came under scrutiny in early 2010, when the Commissioner of Charities (COC) received complaints alleging the misuse of the charity's funds.

The five have not pleaded guilty. The offence of criminal breach of trust carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail, and/or a fine. For the charge of falsifying accounts, the accused may be punishable with a life sentence, or jail of up to 20 years and a fine.
From Asiaone, "City Harvest Church ex-finance chief charged".

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