The well-followed court case of Singaporean pastor Kong Hee, who is being accused of misusing $18 million in funds from his City Harvest Church, has been adjourned until Oct. 4 and it has been reported that the megachurch pastor plans to plead not guilty to the charges.
Additionally, news outlets report that all six of the church's senior leaders who are being charged in the case are likely to plead not guilty, their lawyers determined in a pre-trial, closed door meeting on Thursday.
"I do maintain my integrity, and will rigorously defend that integrity against these charges," Kong, 47, said July 25, according to Singaporean newswire Today Online.
"Sun [Kong's wife] and I would like to take this opportunity to thank God for all the people who have blessed us with their love, kindness and prayers during this challenging period of time. We have been tremendously humbled by the support and encouragement from the public, family and friends. We especially thank all those from City Harvest Church and the Christian community at large. They have been a constant source of strength," the pastor added.
Those facing charges, which include "criminal breach of trust" and falsifying accounts, include Kong Hee, Pastor Tan Ye Peng, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Sharon Tanon, and Serina Wee.
The six City Harvest Church leaders are accused of collaborating to siphon $18 million, initially meant for the church's building fund, into the pop career of Kong's wife, Sun Ho, who is in her early 40s.
Only one defendant, the church's former financial manager Chew Eng Han, accompanied his defense lawyer to the Aug. 30 pre-trial conference.
While all most of the defendants' passports have been impounded, Chew was requesting to travel overseas for personal reasons.
His request was granted, and his bail was increased from $500,000 to $1 million.
"Life goes on for me and I've every reason to be upbeat," Chew told reporters as he exited the courthouse Thursday, failing to mention where he was going and for how long.
In July, Kong, whose charges include three counts of criminal breach of trust, also received permission to travel around the Southeast Asia region for pastoral engagements.
Kong could face life in prison if found guilty of all charges.