Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, former City Harvest Church (CHC) finance manager, one of the six convicted for misappropriating millions of the church funds, asked the High Court on Wednesday (19 Apr) to start serving her seven-month jail term earlier.
On 7 April 2017, the High Court had reduced the sentences of all six former CHC leaders in favour of their appeal.
The Founder of CHC and Senior Pastor Kong Hee had his prison sentence reduced to three years and six months from eight years.
Former Fund Manager Chew Eng Han had his six-year sentence reduced to three years and four months, Deputy Pastor Tan Ye Peng’s sentence was lowered from five-and-a-half-year sentence to three years and two months, former Finance Manager Serina Wee Gek Yin’s sentence was reduced from a five-year sentence to two years and six months.
Former Finance Committee Member John Lam Leng Hung got a reduced sentence from three years to one year and six months, and former Finance Manager Sharon Tan got her sentence lowered from a 21-month jail term to seven months.
Sharon Tan, who got the lowest sentence, was given a two-month deferment after she cited her family’s plans to relocate to the United States, however, she changed her mind and asked the court to let her start serving her prison term earlier.
Her request was granted by the court and she will join four others to come to the State Courts on Friday morning (21 April) to start serving their sentences. A video from the Straits Times shows her leaving the high court on Wednesday.
The four others CHC leaders who will begin to serve their sentences are the church founder Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, former CHC finance committee member John Lam and former CHC finance manager Serina Wee.
In 2015, judge had convict all the six CHC leaders for charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts.
There was no information of why Sharon Tan changed her mind.
Update: Sharon Tan’s lawyer and the prosecution’s case on why Sharon’s wants to start her sentence earlier
Channel NewsAsia reported that Sharon Tan’s lawyer, Mr Paul Seah, said she wanted to be done serving the sentence quickly so she can be reunited with her husband and three children.
But the deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong, objected, calling her decision to start her sentence earlier a ‘tactical’ move. He pointed that the Court of Appeal’s decision was pending so there is a real possibility that Tan would have served her sentence and joined her family in the US by the time the case was heard by the apex court.
“(Then) the Court of Appeal’s hands would be tied. Even if they decide to reinstate her 21-month sentence, she would be out of the country,” Mr Ong said.
To this, Mr Seah declined and said Tan will agree to remain in Singapore until the apex court’s decision even though she would likely have completed her terms by that time.
Mr Seah explained, the benefit of Tan starting earlier was that if the Court of Appeal reinstated her original sentence of 21 months, her ultimate release date would be sooner since she would have already served part of her sentence.