The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has just announced that the Commissioner of Charities (COC) has permanently disqualified the six individuals who have been convicted for criminal convictions under section 27(1)(a) of the Charity Act, from being a governing board member or key officer of a charity or a trustee for a charity as they have been convicted of offences involving dishonesty or deception.
Following the conclusion of the criminal appeal, COC has reviewed the removal proceedings, which resumed in November 2015, under sections 25 and 25A of the Charities Act regarding seven individuals from the City Harvest Church (CHC), namely Kong Hee, Lam Leng Hung, Tan Ye Peng, Tan Shao Yuen Sharon, Serina Wee Gek Yin, Kelvin Teo Meng How and Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline.
|Kong Hee||Member of the Charity’s Board and Executive Member|
|Lam Leng Hung||Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Agent and Executive Member|
|Tan Ye Peng||Vice-Chairman of the Charity’s Board, Trustee, Employee, Agent and Executive Member|
|Tan Shao Yuen Sharon||Employee and Executive Member|
|Serina Wee Gek Yin||Employee and Executive Member|
|Kelvin Teo Meng How||Agent, Employee and Executive Member|
|Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline||Employee and Executive Member|
However，all the above-mentioned individuals may continue to perform their religious duties. The services of CHC can also continue as usual.
On 7 April 2017, the High Court upheld the criminal convictions of Kong Hee, Lam Leng Hung, Tan Ye Peng, Tan Shao Yuen Sharon, Serina Wee Gek Yin and Chew Eng Han (collectively known as “the Six Convicted Individuals”).
As part of the COC’s review of the removal proceedings, it is a pertinent consideration that the offences which the Six Convicted Individuals were convicted of, namely criminal breach of trust and/or falsification of accounts, involve dishonesty and/or deception.
Pursuant to section 27(1)(a) of the Charity Act, the Six Convicted Individuals are thus permanently disqualified, under operation of law, from being a governing board member or key officer of a charity or a trustee for a charity as they have been convicted of offences involving dishonesty or deception. This means that the Six Convicted Individuals are permanently barred from having general control and management of the administration of any charity. It is an offence under section 28(1) of the Act if a person acts as a governing board member or key officer of a charity or trustee for a charity while he is disqualified by virtue of section 27(1)(a) of the Act.
The permanent disqualification under section 27(1)(a) of the Act has a similar effect as a removal order, and would suffice to protect the charitable assets of the Charity from the Six Convicted individuals, since they can no longer hold any governance or management positions in CHC
In relation to Kelvin Teo Meng How and Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline, the COC notes that they were comparatively less culpable than the Six Convicted Individuals in the mismanagement and misconduct of CHC. They have also been adhering to the voluntary suspension from their respective positions in CHC for a period of four years since 2013. Hence, the COC has decided to issue stern warning letters to Kelvin Teo Meng How and Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline.
In addition, the Office of the COC has issued a new Restriction Order prohibiting CHC from appointing or employing the above-named eight individuals, without prior approval of the COC. This is to ensure that the charitable assets of CHC are safeguarded at all times.
The Restriction Orders issued previously to restrict CHC from paying the legal fees of the Six Convicted Individuals, and from entering into transactions relating to payment of services to the above-named eight individuals and their related entities still remain in force. These orders are separate measures put in place to provide the COC with oversight and supervision over the charitable assets of the Charity.
As the Governing Board is ultimately responsible for the proper administration of the Charity, the Governing Board has been strongly advised by the Office of the COC to ensure proper governance and administration of the Charity and exercise due care and prudence to protect the Charity’s charitable assets.
Commissioner of Charities, Dr Ang Hak Seng was quoted by MCCY, “Good governance, accountability and transparency are fundamental principles for the proper administration of charities. All officers, trustees and employees of charities have to act in the best interests of their charities. Leaders, especially, have an even greater responsibility to uphold these principles as they are appointed and entrusted by their members. My office will not tolerate any mismanagement or misconduct in the administration of a charity, and will not hesitate to take action against those responsible.”