Church Leaders Convicted Of Fraud In Mandopop Scandal

A Singapore court finally on Oc. 21, returned a verdict on a case involving a pop star that has been in local news for more than two years.

Six leaders of the evangelical City Harvest Church were convicted of fraud for spending S$50 million ($36 million) to turn the wife of pastor Kong Hee into a global superstar. About S$24 million was money improperly diverted from church funds.

Despite these efforts, the wife, Ho Sun, never became very famous. The six leaders had always insisted that the “project” was religious in nature, a claim that prosecutors countered with the claim that they had diverted another S$26 million to cover up the first diversion.

The case first came to light when Ho appeared in a 2007 music video with Wyclef Jean. She was trying to crossover from Mandopop to a worldwide audience that spoke English.

The leaders’ reasoning behind the expensive videos was that Ho could help the church reach a large audience overseas and thus attract more international parishioners, a claim that some church members found odd given the theme of the videos.

In one, Ho appears as the “scantily-clad wife” of an African-American man played by model Tyson Beckford, whom she plans on killing. The reggae-inflected song she sings is called “Mr. Bill.” The judge for the trial found Kong and another church leaders guilty of criminal breach of trust, while the remaining four were convicted of either criminal breach of trust or falsification of accounts.