Six leaders of a huge Singaporean church have been convicted of fraud in a case worth S$50m ($35m; £23m). The judge ruled City Harvest Church’s pastor, Kong Hee, and others used church finances to fund the music career of his wife, Sun Ho, or falsified accounts to cover it up. The defendants had argued Ms Ho’s pop music career was a way of reaching out to non-Christians. They have been bailed until sentencing, but could face up to life in jail.
Sun Ho herself is not accused of wrongdoing. The scandal is the biggest corruption case squeaky-clean Singapore has seen in years. From racy music videos to a convoluted money trail, the case has riveted Singaporeans. City Harvest Church was founded by Kong Hee, charismatic pastor, and his wife, pastor-turned-pop singer Sun Ho, in 1989. Known for its slick image and wealth-focused brand of Christianity, it has grown rapidly and is now estimated to have at least 30,000 members in Singapore and others elsewhere. The charges related to the church leadership’s attempts to boost Ms Ho’s music career worldwide, which ultimately failed. She had been touted as a demure “singing pastor” in Asia, cutting several Mandarin singles – but they only had modest success.