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Kong 'defrauded donors'

THE PASTOR'S WIFE: Money was paid to Kong's wife Sun Ho in the form of music royalties, bonuses and salaries, said former City Harvest treasurer Chew Eng Han.


    Aug 20, 2014

    Kong 'defrauded donors'

    YOU defrauded donors by hiding hundreds and thousands of dollars your wife took from the donations as her music royalties, bonuses and salaries.

    This was one of many accusations that former City Harvest treasurer Chew Eng Han threw at church founder Kong Hee in court yesterday.

    The two former associates have known each other for more than a decade.

    Now, Chew is trying to show that Kong was a liar and more deeply involved than he let on about the alleged misuse of around $50 million of the church's money, and someone more interested in personal gain than City Harvest's interests.

    While cross-examining Kong, who was taking the stand, Chew told the court about a church account which donors, including himself, had contributed to.

    The account was set up in 2006 to support Kong and his wife Ho Yeow Sun when they went off the church's payroll to do mission work, and to pay for expenses in the church's Crossover Project, which uses Ms Ho's music to evangelise.

    But the couple took out about $450,000 to $500,000 each year between 2007 and 2009 as Ms Ho's music artiste salary, bonuses and royalties.

    A year after this led to a deficit of slightly more than $500,000 in 2009, Kong called a meeting of the donors. He told them how much more they could donate to make up for the shortfall.

    "We were quite troubled that our giving was not enough to support your ministry, so we decided to give more," Chew, 54, told Kong.

    "But there was never actually a deficit in 2009. The deficit came after you stripped out royalties and salaries and bonuses that went to Sun."

    Chew claimed that Kong never revealed to donors that hundreds and thousands of dollars were going to pay his wife.

    When he asked Kong why, the 49-year-old pastor seemed emotionally drained when he replied: "I didn't have the chance to check with my wife if she wants to reveal her salaries and royalties, and we have a culture in City Harvest Church, as in many companies, of keeping our income as confidential as possible."

    Chew said flatly in return: "These are the givers that are closest to you, your greatest supporters...

    "One of the reasons I left the church is that when I look at this, I realised that you deceived the people closest to you."

    He added that this was just one of several "lies" by his former spiritual mentor.

    Chew claimed that attendance figures for City Harvest services had been "falsified" and "grossly exaggerated". He pointed to BlackBerry messages by church members that suggested the actual attendance was around 12,000 a week, not 28,000 as Kong had claimed.

    Kong denied this, saying that the 12,000 figure referred to the tally of cell-group church members and not the total attendance.

    "Cell-group figures are usually about 60 per cent or even lesser of the church's final attendance, if you include walk-ins and visitors," said Kong.

    But Chew hit back, saying incredulously: "Are you saying that every week about 40 per cent of the attendees are new walk-ins that are not related to the cell-group members?"

    Chew summed up his cross-examination of Kong yesterday by pointing out 10 ways the senior pastor had apparently failed the church, adding: "You do not love the church, as in its people, and you are not that concerned about the church suffering losses."