Defense lawyers for Singapore megachurch pastor Kong Hee have insisted that no evidence exists to prove that he and five other City Harvest Church leaders misused church funds to pay for the popstar career of Kong's wife, singer Sun Ho, as the trial entered its 42nd day.
Six City Harvest Church leaders are facing prosecution for their involvement in the alleged misuse of funds, accused of spending close to $41 million on Ho's career. Pastor Tan Ye Peng, members Chew Eng Han and Lam Leng Hung, accountants Serina Wee Gek Yin and Sharon Tan ShaoYuen, and pastor Kong all face 10-20 years if convicted.
So far, 14 prosecution witnesses have been heard from, Channel News Asia reported on Tuesday, and Chief District Judge See Kee Oon is yet to decide if the defense has a case to answer.
The prosecution is arguing that the church leaders were entrusted with the funds and had full control over them, while the defense says that the church board never passed a resolution that indicated who exactly has the power to make decisions regarding the funds, meaning the entire board made the decisions and not separate individuals.
Prosecutors have also argued that Kong and the other church leaders channeled money "allotted for a church building fund into sham bonds in church-linked companies" and later "falsified church accounts to make it appear the bonds were redeemed."
At the start of the trial in 2013, prosecutor Mavis Chionh promised that the evidence would show "that the offenses were part of a deliberately planned, meticulously coordinated and carefully executed scheme."
City Harvest, which was founded by Kong in 1989 as a non-profit non-denominational evangelical church, claims a current membership of 30,000 people.
Ho, who has appeared in Wyclef Jean "China Wine" music video and "Mr. Bill," has not been charged herself, but has said she is standing by her husband during the trial. While she was initially dismissed from her position as executive director of City Harvest Church, she was later reinstalled.
"I am very thankful to Jesus that I can resume my executive duties at such a crucial time for City Harvest Church. I am truly glad that I have been fully vindicated. God's grace abounds and His faithfulness truly never ends! I want to thank the members of CHC for always standing with our church and our leaders. Your unceasing prayers are moving mountains and are so important to us in the days to come," Ho wrote after her reinstallment.