The pastor of a megachurch in Singapore has been found guilty of spending $37 million to support his wife’s pop singing career.
The case is a rare example of financial prosecution in a city state reputed to be among the world’s most corruption-free countries, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Kong Hee, 47, the founder at City Harvest Church, and five others were found guilty of diverting nearly $37 million to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s career and move to Hollywood.
Several other City Harvest church leaders were also found guilty of various charges, including criminal breach of trust and conspiring to falsify accounts.
The penalty for criminal breach of trust in this case is a maximum of up to 10 years and a fine per charge, with a maximum incarceration of 20 years. For falsifying accounts, the penalty is a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine, the WSJ reported.
Ho, a co-founder of the church who also performed under the stage name of ‘Geisha’, was not criminally charged in the case. Ho was marketed as “the singing pastor” in Asia, and released several singles.
Following her husband’s conviction, Ho asked church members for their continuing support.
Ho wrote on the church website:
Thank you for your unwavering faithfulness in loving God and loving one another. More than ever before, let’s have a unity that is unbreakable.
The sentencing phase of the trial will soon come up, and it is likely that they all might face up to 20 years in prison.
The pastor and his wife have boosted the expansion of their congregation to more than 17,500 members.
City Harvest appeals to middle-class followers with its use of “prosperity theology” that teaches material blessings are God’s will for all Christians.