A Singapore-based megachurch pastor and five of his deputies appeared in court on Wednesday and Thursday to answer charges of massive fraud and deception.
The 48-year-old pastor and founder of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, is accused of embezzling some 19 million dollars to finance the pop career of his warbling wife, Sun Ho (photo).
According to the Sydney Morning Herald,
Based on Pentecostal teachings, the church’s “prosperity gospel” encourages the material aspirations of mostly young members, and uses music and drama for praise and worship. It often holds elaborate services resembling pop concerts.
Where’d the pilfered money go? For starters, Sun Ho moved into a Hollywood mansion. She appears to have spent lavishly to try to break into the charts. Here she is in a gilded video production of Fancy Free, a song that, aptly, is about dreaming of being a superstar. Its opening line: “Woke up feeling like a millionaire.”
The pastor’s wife, now in her early 40s, was hoping international stardom would help spread the church’s message, according to previous reports in the Singapore media.
Singapore prosecutors say the accused channeled money earmarked for the church’s building into buying sham bond investments. Those investments were in church-linked companies whose accounts could be dipped into for the promotion of Ho’s music career.
[The conspirators] allegedly falsified church accounts to make it appear the bonds were redeemed, in an elaborate scheme the prosecutors called ’round-tripping.’ “The transactions were thus designed to throw the auditors off the scent of the bogus bonds,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh.
The pastor’s followers are undeterred (I guess you could say they have faith).
Church members have told journalists they trust Pastor Kong to spend their money in any way he sees fit.
That‘s the (holy) spirit.
And you know who else has it in spades? Pastor Kong!
“Christian, remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity,” Kong tweeted after the court adjourned Thursday.
[image via source]