- (Photo: Twitter/Tan Ye Peng)
At Thursday's pre-trial conference for a fraud court case involving staff of Kong Hee's City Harvest Church in Singapore, a third defendant received permission to travel overseas.
City Harvest Church vice chairman Tan Ye Peng, 39, received permission at the pre-trial conference on Oct. 4 to travel overseas for a four-day missionary trip to Indonesia.
Tan is the third defendant in this court case to receive permission to travel overseas. The church's founding pastor, Kong Hee, and Chew Eng Han, the church's investment manager, have also received permission to travel.
The six accused in this case must request permission to travel, as their passports have been impounded.
As Channel News Asia points out, Kong, Chew and Tan requested permission to travel to the United States, South Korea, and Indonesia.
Tan is facing six counts of conspiring to commit criminal breach of trust and four counts of conspiring to falsify accounts, according to Channel News Asia.
Along with Tan, five other church officials have been accused of "misappropriating funds" after an extensive two-year investigation discovered the misuses of $18 million from City Harvest Church's building fund.
Investigators suspect that the money was being siphoned into the pop music career of Pastor Kong Hee's wife, Sun Ho, who is in her early 40s. The church has become one of the most popular Christian megachurches in Singapore, and Kong and his wife, Sun, have reportedly gained a celebrity status among their community.
News outlets have reported that all six of the accused are expected to plead not guilty.
"I do maintain my integrity, and will rigorously defend that integrity against these charges," Kong Hee, 47, said in a July 25 statement, according to Singaporean newswire Today Online.
The three pre-trial conferences that occur before the actual trail date allow the defense lawyers to exchange information and evidence with the prosecution.
In this court case, because the six defendants were charged with the misuse of funds, they dedicate these pre-trial meetings to supplying paperwork and bank statements arguing their innocence.
The third and last pre-trial session will be held Nov. 22. Tan, Kong and Chew are allowed to travel until this date.