The co-founder of a Singapore church and five other leaders were sentenced to jail terms of up to eight years on Friday, for fraudulently diverting millions of dollars to support his wife’s pop singing 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 heads City Harvest Church, one of a growing number of Singapore’s megachurches preaching a “prosperity gospel” that blends spiritual and material aspirations.
Six 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 on Friday 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 the defendants time to appeal.
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.