SOURCE: The Straits Times Online
City Harvest Church founding pastor Kong Hee, who is facing three charges of criminal breach of trust, showed up at the Subordinate Courts yesterday to apply for permission to travel overseas.
This was granted after a hearing behind closed doors, with an increase to the initial bail amount of $500,000.
The lawyer who accompanied him to court, Mr Aaron Lee of Allen & Gledhill, declined to reveal the new bail amount or Kong's itinerary and travel dates.
But according to the City Harvest website, Kong is scheduled to attend the Wave Conference in Virginia Beach in the United States tomorrow and on Thursday.
He is then listed as heading to Taipei for another event next week.
The 47-year-old and five other senior members of the mega church have been charged with misusing millions in church funds.
Some of them also face charges of falsifying accounts.
About $24 million was allegedly put into sham bond investments to conceal funds channelled to further the music career of Kong's singer wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun.
A further $26.6 million of church money was then purportedly misappropriated to cover up the initial amount.
The six accused will have their cases mentioned in court again on Aug 30.
Meanwhile, the church elected four new candidates to its 10-member board at its annual general meeting on Sunday.
They are Mr Aries Zulkarnain, executive pastor of the church; Mr Rick Chan, a partner at a financial services firm; Mr Lee Tat Haur, an architect and adjunct lecturer; and civil servant Victor Lim.
They replaced the three members who were suspended after the arrest - Kong, his deputy Tan Ye Peng and John Lam Leng Hung - and a fourth who stepped down for unrelated reasons.
More than 560 executive members turned up for the meeting in the church's Jurong West building.
Kong was unable to attend due to restrictions imposed by the Commissioner of Charities.
He was suspended from the board after his arrest.
Progress reports given out showed the church's attendance had dipped from 22,049 in 2010 to 20,619 last year.
But by last month, numbers went up to 21,084.
Board member Francis Tay, who is the investment committee chairman, also briefed those present on financial matters.
Due to the court case, the church's finance department and auditors will have to prepare their accounts for the past financial year and carry out their audit in the Commercial Affairs Department.
He said the audit was expected to be completed in three months, and an extraordinary general meeting would be held to present the financial statements.
Executive members voiced their support for their leaders when it was their chance to take the floor.
Three of them proposed getting approval from the Commissioner of Charities to use church funds to pay the legal and court fees of the six accused.
Alternatively, they suggested setting up a private fund for members to contribute to.
Mr Zulkarnain told them that while the church could not be involved in financial assistance to the six accused, individual members were free to do so, as long as they complied with the legal requirements of fund raising.