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October 21, 2015

Singapore Clergyman Convicted in $36-Million Fund Diversion

The founder of a Singapore church was found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to steer some $36 million in charity funds to support his wife's career as a pop singer, Bloomberg Business reports.

Kong Hee, pastor of City Harvest Church, faces up 20 years on each of three charges. He and several church officials were arrested in 2012, two years after authorities began investigating the organization's finances. Prosecutors said the defendants misused funds and engineered phony bond deals as part of the largest charity fraud in Singapore's history.

Mr. Kong, 51, contended that the funds served a project for his wife, singer Ho Yeow Sun (who was not charged), to reach out to young people through pop songs. The money was later returned to the church. Presiding Judge See Kee Oon said that while the accused made no financial gain, they cannot be exonerated "no matter how pure the motive."