Following a High Court judgement which reduced the sentences of City Harvest Church leaders involved in the misappropriating of $50 million worth of church funds, the Attorney-General’s Chambers has filed a “criminal reference” to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to get the original sentences restated.
This means that the trial for the City Harvest Church leaders, Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Chew Eng Han, John Lam, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan will go on.
In a split decision on Friday, the High court had reduced the charges for the CHC leaders after convicting them of the least aggravated form of Criminal Breach of Trust under section 409 of the Penal Code.
“Having carefully considered the written grounds, the prosecution is of the view that there are questions of law of public interest that have arisen out of the High Court’s decision, including and in particular, whether a director or a member of the governing body of a company or organisation who is entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, is so entrusted in the way of his business as an agent for the purposes of section 409 of the Penal Code,” wrote the AGC in its statement to the media.
“The prosecution has accordingly filed a Criminal Reference today, to refer these questions of law to the Court of Appeal.
“If the Court of Appeal answers the questions referred in accordance with the prosecution’s submissions, the prosecution intends to request that the Court of Appeal exercises its powers under section 397(5) to reinstate the appellants’ original convictions under section 409 of the Penal Code and make necessary and consequential orders in relation to the sentences given.”
The AGC had informed the Government that it would be appealing the reduced sentences of the CHC leaders, and Law Minister K Shanmugam had also said that the Government believes that the “original sentences were too low as well”.
In the ruling, Kong Hee’s original sentence of 8 years was cut to 3½ years. CHC’s former fund manager Chew Eng Han had his 6 year sentence cut to 3 years and 4 months. Deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng had his 5 year sentence cut to 3 years and 2 months. Former finance committee member John Lam had his 3 year sentence halved to 1 year and six months. Former finance manager Serina Wee had her 5 year sentence cut to 2½ years, while another finance manager Sharon Tan had her 21 month jail sentence reduced to 7 months.