The co-founder of a megachurch and five other leaders have been sentenced to jail terms of up to 8 years on Friday, for fraudulently diverting millions of dollars to his wife and her music career.
The mix of faith and fraud has fascinated tightly-regulated Singapore, where such cases are rare in an affluent city-state with little tolerance for corruption.
Senior pastor Kong Hee (pictured above) heads City Harvest Church, one of the big churches in Singapore that is known to be preaching “prosperity gospel” that blends spiritual and material aspirations.
Six other church officials were convicted last month of diverting nearly S$51 million ($36 million) in funds to advance the career of Kong’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun.
They were sentenced to jail terms of between 21 months and eight years, depending on how involved they were in the fraud. The jail terms were delayed to January next year, giving them time to appeal.
Pastor Kong was arrested in 2012 and charged with criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts. His wife, the co-founder and executive director of the church, was not charged in the case.