City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee, who is currently embroiled in an ongoing trial concerning the possible misuse of over $19 million in church funds to finance his popstar wife's career, has claimed he is "not living the high life" despite reports that he is selling his co-owned $10 million luxury penthouse in Sentosa Cove, Singapore.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Kong, 50, said earlier reports describing his penthouse as "lavish and opulent" were both "misleading and exaggerated." He also clarified that his family has sold other properties as well to help pay their attorneys' fees.
"I was surprised and saddened by the contents of the article because significant portions of it are misleading and exaggerated," he wrote in the post, which was published in response to a Straits Times article from earlier this week.
"The property that my family and I have been living in is co-owned with another family. We have been living at this property with the co-owner's kind permission after we had to sell our properties in order to pay the legal expenses for the ongoing trial," the pastor continued.
According to the report, an anonymous investor who visited the penthouse described it as "lavish and opulent" and said it gives one "the impression that the owner sure knows how to enjoy the high life."
The report also described the 5,242 square foot duplex as having a 'giant crystal light fixtures and works of art,' a huge bathroom with a jacuzzi, and a roof terrace with a large pool.
Kong claimed that the investor used "superlative terms to describe the property," and is "implying that its furnishings are grand and luxurious."
"I don't know the intentions and motives of this 'investor,' but my family and I would respectfully disagree with what he is trying to suggest," Kong continued.
"There is no denying that we are blessed and privileged to be staying at Sentosa Cove. However, we are under no illusion that this is only our temporary home, until the property is sold. The article has given the impression that this unit was only just put up for sale. In reality, the co-owner and I have been trying to sell this property for some time."
The pastor concluded, "Suffice to say that those who know and are around me, my family and friends, know perfectly well what we have gone through over the past 5 years, and what we continue to go through today can hardly be called 'the high life'."
Kong founded City Harvest Church in 1989 with his wife, Sun Ho. The church currently boasts of over 20,000 members, making it one of the largest congregations in Asia. The non-denominational church also conducts 15 worship services, about 800 cell groups and five support fellowships on a weekly basis.
The church's pastor and five other church members are currently on trial facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted of misusing $19.2 million of church funds to buy sham bonds from two church-linked firms in an attempt to fund the secular music career of Sun Ho.
According to the Washington Times, prosecutors alleged that all six elders in the church are "guilty of a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust with the building funds."
However, the church has denied such claims and said monies were returned to church coffers with interest, and no funds were lost.
Kong has previously maintained that while he is innocent of all accusations, City Harvest should continue offering support for Sun's career, arguing that it helps spread the message of the church to secular groups.