City Harvest Church case: 2 men jailed for abetting Chew Eng Han to leave country via boat

5 City Harvest Church leaders surrender, begin jail terms
A combination photo shows City Harvest Church's members (top L-R to bottom L-R), former finance manager Serina Wee, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, former finance manager Sharon Tan, founder Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former treasurer John Lam arriving at the State Courts in Singapore October 21, 2015, where a verdict is expected to be delivered for their trial of misappropriating S$50 million ($42.5 million) of church funds and falsifying the church's accounts. Reuters

City Harvest Church case, which is Singapore's largest fraud case that involved charitable funds showed new improvement. Two men, who assisted the convict Chew Eng Han during his attempt to escape from the country, were finally sentenced to jail on Friday, July 13.

The first convict, 53-year-old Tan Poh Teck was sentenced to 27 weeks of imprisonment for his involvement as a boatman, who helped Chew to flee the country on February 21 at around 8.47 am. The Malaysian man, Tan Kim Ho, 42, sentenced to six months of jail term as he helped the 58-year-old Chew to leave Singapore for Malaysia by boat.

The police arrested the boatman Tan Poh on February 21 along with Chew, who is now serving his jail sentence, while Tan Kim was caught by the Malaysian police in his own country and later in April he was handed over to the Singapore authorities.

During the court hearing on Friday, the Tan Poh pleaded guilty for abetting Chew to flee the country from Pulau Ubin's jetty, which is an illegal embarkation site. The court heard that he was supposed to take Chew to the north-east part of Pulau Ubin, where he would take another boat that would take him to the Malaysian soil.

When the prosecution appealed for a minimum of six months jail term for the boatman, District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed to that.

Tan Kim also pleaded guilty on Friday to one charge of helping City Harvest Church leader Chew in his attempt to leave the country illegally by making transport arrangements.

Earlier, police also arrested a 45-year-old man, Khoo Kea Leng for abetting Chew to flee the country and to hide somewhere in Malaysia. He is currently serving his six months of imprisonment term since April. He met Chew at a car park near Block 75 Marine Drive to discuss the escape plan and received S$8,000 as the payment from the former leader.

However, Chew started his three years jail sentence for criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts on Mar 1. Even, 53-year-old founder Kong Hee was convicted for misappropriating some money worth $50 m of church funds. While all the involved leaders of City Harvest already started their jail term, Chew was the last convict to begin serving his sentence.

Chew had to face additional charges for his attempt to flee the country illegally as well as for his intentions to defeat the court of justice by trying to leave the country one day before he was to serve the sentence for money laundering case. For the new charges, he has to attend the pre-trial conference, which is scheduled on Thursday, July 19.

This article was first published on July 14, 2018