City Harvest Church's founder Kong Hee along with four others surrendered themselves on Friday morning at the State Courts to start their jail term, two weeks after the verdict of their appeal was passed. They are convicted of misappropriating S$50 million from the megachurch's coffers.
The 52-year-old Kong was the first to arrive at about 8.30 am. A group of over 30 supporters were seen waiting outside the court room to greet and hug him. "I'm totally at peace, and grateful to God. I've nothing more to say," Kong told Today Online.
Kong had his eight-year sentence reduced to three and a half years' jail on Apr 7 by the High Court.
Sharon Tan, the former CHC finance manager, was the next to arrive at the courts, followed by ex-finance committee member John Lam. Former deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee turned up late at the court. All the convicts were supposed to be at the court by 9 am.
On Wednesday, the former fund manager Chew Eng Han, who was the sixth individual involved in the case, was granted a stay of sentence until the Court of Appeal has ruled on questions of law of public interest raised by the prosecution.
Chew, who faces a jail term of 3 years and 4 months, said he plans to bring his case to the apex court too, and the deferment would allow him the time and resources he needs to conduct his own defence.
In 2015, all six of them were convicted after a 140-day trial and sentenced to between 21 months and eight years' jail.
Kong, who received the stiffest sentence among all of them, said that he was "filled with grief and regret" over his mistakes. On Wednesday, he requested forgiveness through a media statement saying: "I have, in these past weeks since the release of the judgment, reflected deeply. I have come to terms with what is ahead and am at peace."
Tan was sentenced to three years and two months of jail, whereas Lam was given one year and six months' jail. Wee was jailed for two years and six months.