City Harvest Church case
City Harvest Church case Reuters & Pixabay

While serving a three-year jail term, Chew Eng Han, former leader of City Harvest Church (CHC) faces one fresh charge as on Thursday.

Chew, who was convicted for misappropriating millions of money from a charitable fund, is now facing a new charge with one count of attempting to defeat the course of justice, as he tried to flee the country illegally on February 21.

If the former CHC fund manager Chew is found guilty, then he could face a jail term of up to three-and-a-half years, including or excluding fine.

Chew was scheduled to begin his jail sentence for the criminal breach of trust on February 22 but, he attempted to flee the country in a motorised boat from Pulau Ubin Jetty and wanted to hide somewhere in Malaysia.

Tan Poh Teck, a compatriot of Chew, helped the accused to flee the country illegally and allegedly assisted another man to leave Singapore from an unauthorised place of embarkation. The 53-year-old Tan was charged with abetting 57-year-old Chew to leave the country.

Earlier Hee Joek, Tan's lawyer told the court that he had urged the prosecution and police to provide him access to take instructions and understand Tan's condition.

Reports also stated that a 46-year-old Malaysian man, Khoo Kea Leng had received a payment of $8,000 from Chew, for helping him to leave the Republic from an unauthorised place of departure.

He met Chew at a car park near Block 75 Marine Drive to discuss the escape plan via a motorised sampan.

However, Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) arrested Khoo in Malaysia and later he was handed over to Singapore Police Force (SPF).

Along with Chew, police arrested his 61-year-old elder brother Chew Eng Soon, including the boatman who piloted Chew's boat on February 21 but the brother of the accused was later released on bail.

Chew was allowed to defer his prison sentence until Chinese New Year day, as he wanted to be with his family.

Along with Chew, there are five other former CHC leaders, including the founder Kong Hee, were convicted for misappropriating money worth S$50 million.

While other culprits have already started serving their jail terms from April, Chew was the only one among them not to have started serving his jail sentence from the declared date.

The next hearing for Chew's case will take place on May 3.

He appeared in court on Thursday via video-link and was wearing a white T-shirt. When the fresh charge was read to him, Chew looked very disheartened.

However, Tan and Khoo's cases were also mentioned during the recent court hearing but as of now, there were no fresh charges filed against them.

The court heard that Khoo wants to plead guilty to his previous charges and he was asked to be present for the hearing, which will take place on April 12. On the other hand, Tan will return to court on May 3.