It’s probably safe to assume that most of you don’t pay attention to the goings on in Singapore’s pop music industry, but maybe you should start. Six senior officials at one of the city-state’s largest religious organizations, the City Harvest Church, are accused of stealing more than $40 million from church funds and using them to fund the musical career of Sun Ho, wife of church founder and “volunteer senior pastor” Kong Hee. Kong is among the six accused. Via Pollstar:
Also charged are church pastor Tan Ye Peng, church members Chew Eng Han and Lam Leng Hung, and accountants Serina Wee Gek Yin and Sharon Tan Shao Yuen. The six, who have yet to say how they will plea, could face prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years.
The prosecution’s opening statement ridiculed the contention of church leaders that pop music was a tool of evangelism that would help spread God’s message. It said Ho recorded and launched secular music albums to influence people “who would never choose to step foot into a church to listen to a preacher.”
Investments by the church in two companies, Xtron Productions and Firna, were in substance fake transactions that were orchestrated by the accused who were all involved in the planning and financing of Ho’s music career, according to prosecutors.
State media reported that 24 million Singapore dollars ($19 million) was channeled through Xtron and Firna and another S$26 million was misappropriated to cover up the initial sum.
Ho is best known for the decidedly secular 2007 pop-dancehall song, which also featured Wyclef Jean, Elephant Man and Tony Matterhorn.