Uploaded on May 31, 2010
Individuals, firms linked to City Harvest Church under probe
City Harvest church at Jurong Street 91
SINGAPORE : The founder of City Harvest Church and 16 other individuals and staff involved in the handling of the church's financial affairs are being investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD).
Police confirmed on Monday evening that Reverend Kong Hee and 16 others are assisting in an on-going investigation arising from complaints made to the Commissioner of Charities (COC) on the misuse of church funds.
CAD officers in the morning visited various premises, including the homes and offices of the individuals involved. They secured items such as financial records and computers for their investigation.
As to how long the investigation will take, the police have given the assurance that while it will be thorough, it will be without undue delay.
Earlier in the afternoon, the COC and CAD said in a joint statement that they were investigating some financial transactions involving several individuals and companies related or connected to the church.
They assured the public that despite ongoing investigations, the normal services and religious activities of the City Harvest need not be disrupted.
City Harvest is one of the largest churches in Singapore, with a congregation of over 30,000 who regularly pack its venues at Jurong West and the Singapore Expo during sermons.
The church's reach online is even greater - through live webcasts, podcasts and its own broadcast channel. Much of it is driven by its charismatic founder, Reverend Kong.
The pastor keeps a Facebook page that has over 30,000 fans, and has his own YouTube channel. He lives in the US with his son and wife, Sun Ho, a successful pop singer.
This is not the first time City Harvest Church has made headlines. It was just in March that eyebrows were raised over the church's S$310 million stake in Suntec City Convention Centre, and the Commissioner of Charities was called in to investigate.
In a statement to MediaCorp, the charities watchdog stressed that this round of investigations is not related to the earlier Suntec case.
It added that the case involved more than just City Harvest - it included companies and individuals connected either directly or indirectly with the church. That is why, it said, the police have to be involved.
Depending on the findings, the charity's trustee may be suspended.
The statement continued: "While there was a governance review conducted on City Harvest Church in 2007, the objective and the scope are different from that of an inquiry.
"The governance review essentially looks at the organisation's corporate governance with the objective of assessing and helping the charities to improve the way they are run.
"The inquiry on the other hand is a formal investigation into allegations and complaints received to ascertain that there is no mismanagement or misconduct in the administration of a charity."
When asked to comment, the National Council of Churches of Singapore, of which City Harvest is a member, said it was too premature to do so at this point.
On the City Harvest's website, a notice to members by Executive Pastor Reverend Derek Dunn stated that the church was "cooperating fully" with investigations, and that services and operations would continue as usual.
MediaCorp understands the church has engaged Christina Ng from law firm Rajah and Tann to represent it.
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