When members of the evangelical City Harvest Church in Singapore donated money for charitable projects, little did they know they were actually financing the pop music career of the pastor’s wife.
Pastor Kong Hee, founder of one of Singapore’s richest churches which is famous in the conservative city state for its pop concert-style services, has been arrested on suspicion of misusing S$23 million ($18 million) in donations from his 30,000-strong congregation, the Telegraph reported today.
Four senior executives of the church were also detained.
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The arrests followed a two-year investigation by the Commissioner of Charities, Singapore's official charities watchdog, which had received complaints about the misuse of funds in the church.
“Financial irregularities of at least S$23 million from the charity’s funds have been discovered,” the Commissioner of Charities said in a statement.
“These funds were used with the purported intention to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people,” the statement said.
Ho was trying to launch a career in the United States and, according to Bloomberg, had performed with artists such as Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean.
According to the Associated Press, Singapore police plan to charge Kong on Wednesday with “conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust.” The other church leaders will be charged with “breach of trust and conspiracy to commit falsification of accounts.”
The church has been registered as a charity since 1993, Bloomberg reported. Official figures show it raked in about S$71 million for the year ended Oct 31, 2009.
A statement on the church’s website today confirmed Kong, Tan Ye Peng, John Lam, Chew Eng Han and Sharon Tan would attend court on Wednesday and asked that the congregation “keep the church, our pastors, leaders and their families in prayer.”
It also confirmed that "church operations and cell group meetings" would continue as usual.
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