Does this pose “a risk that public confidence in the administration of justice would be undermined”? Could this be a test case for Administration of Justice (Protection) Act?
IMO, and in response:
1) The accused didn’t use any of the money for their own ends, so there’s no legal basis for criminal breach of trust.
He seems to focus very much on the ‘converts to own use’ bit, but the very statute he cites in its entirety also says “… or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or wilfully suffers any other person to do so, commits “criminal breach of trust…” Given that the original inquiry comes from the Commissioner of Charities, it seems the answer for ‘what is the legal basis?’ seems fairly self-evident: even if the money is not converted to one’s own use, mishandling it dishonestly is still CBT. Alternatively, saying that they’ll use it for A when instead they used it for B, seems to fulfil the requirement for disposing of it “… in violation of … any legal contract, express or implied…”
2) Who is the state to tell the church how it should manage things if it acts in accordance to its own constitution?
This seems like company-law thinking, but a church isn’t just a company. It’s also a charity. IRAS, in a letter, points out that a “… charity’s main purpose is to provide public benefits through its charitable activities”. There is a higher ethical burden on charities, and greater scrutiny, which justifies their tax-exempt status. Again, the initial investigation against CHC was initiated by the Commissioner of Charities.
He draws a comparison between the leeway enjoyed by investment firms and asks why churches should not be given the same latitude or be governed by the same rules. Again, it seems self-evident that a church is not a bank (even if its leaders treat it like one) and tax-exempt charities ought to be scrutinised differently from ones that do pay taxes.
3) Why not haul everyone in to testify?
I don’t think the prosecution is obliged or encouraged to produce everyone who might conceivably have any connection with an offence. The system is adversarial, dawg.
4) All ministries need to be taken to court regularly so their processes can be scrutinised
Like CHC, ministries, stat boards, and other companies have their own auditing processes. Unlike CHC, most of those don’t conceal things from their auditors.
a: Why is the gosh-darned Public Prosecutor so articulate and memorable? He should stop doing his job properly!
Not doing their jobs properly seems to be a CHC thing, and hopefully it doesn’t catch on.
b: Also the public is stupid and easily misled.
Given that at least some members of the general public have given CHC literally tens of millions of dollars to spend on CHINA WINE CHINA WINE CHINA WINE, I think I’ve finally found common ground with the learned writer!