Singapore: City Harvest Church culprit Chew Eng Han behind bars

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

Chew Eng Han, former leader of City Harvest Church (CHC) has begun his three years and four months of prison life for misappropriating millions of money from a charitable fund.

The 57-year-old cleric was scheduled to begin his sentence for the criminal breach of trust last Thursday but he tried to flee the country via a motorised boat and wanted to hide somewhere in Malaysia.

Chew was represented by Mr Jonathan Phipps from YS Chung Law Corporation. Now, he faces charges for his attempt to leave Singapore unlawfully by boarding the boat at 8.47am on Wednesday, Feb 21 from Pulau Ubin Jetty, which is an unauthorised departing place.

Along with Chew, there are five other CHC leaders, including the founder of the Kong Hee, who were convicted for misappropriating money worth S$50 million in church funds. According to reports, the case was the largest fraud ever happened in Singapore.

Chew was allowed to defer his prison sentence until after Chinese New Year day. Chew's compatriot, Tan Poh Teck, a fish farm owner also faced charges for helping the accused to flee the country illegally via a boat.

The 53-year-old Tan was also found guilty of helping Shanker Maghalingam, another accused of CHC case, to leave Singapore from an unauthorised place of embarkation, the sea off Changi to Malaysia.

His lawyer Hee Joek from Tan See Swan & Co told the court that he has urged to the prosecution and police to provide him with the access to take instructions and understand Tan's condition.

The prosecution has asked for the remand of Tan for another week, which will help them to complete the investigation. If Tan is found guilty, he could face a jail term of up to two years with a fine of up to $6,000 on each charge.

According to Singapore law, the maximum punishment for leaving the country illegally is a fine of S$2,000, including an imprisonment of six months.

This article was first published on March 2, 2018