The pastor of Singapore's City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, has been accused by his former investment manager of lying about his control over music management firm Xtron and taking the "most convenient way" to defend himself.
"The only reason I broke away was that the story being cooked up was not the truth. Why is so much responsibility being placed on the investment manager? I'm not going to be united with a team that chooses the most convenient way to defend themselves," Chew Eng Han said about his decision to quit the church in 2013 as Singapore's "longest running criminal trial" resumed on Monday.
Both Kong and Chew are among six church leaders accused 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 Kong's wife, Sun Ho.All involved may face 10-20 years if found guilty.
Channel News Asia reports that while Kong has denied all allegations and asserted that he did not control Xtron or misuse funds, Chew emphasized that in reality, Xtron was used for that very purpose.
The former church investment manager added that he was very disappointed by the failure of Kong and Deputy Senior Pastor Tan Ye Peng to demonstrate leadership skills when they were first accused in 2010.
"When the fire broke out, I didn't see any leadership, I didn't see any shepherds. All I saw was fear," Chew said.
Chew added that he had "laid down (his) life for the church" since joining CHC in 1995 and had given about S$600,000 in tithes and donations, TODAYOnline reports
"I thought God was using me for His kingdom ... every day I did it for God and for Kong Hee, whom I thought was a man of God," he explained.
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.
City Harvest Church was founded by Kong in Singapore in 1989 with the mission of engaging culture with the servitude Jesus showed to people when He walked the earth, according to the church's website.
The church is one of the largest and fastest growing in the country, holding a congregation of over 20,000. The non-denominational church also conducts 15 worship services, about 800 cell groups and five support fellowships on a weekly basis. According to The Wall Street Journal, City Harvest's followers are "drawn by its charismatic style of evangelism and teachings that material wealth is compatible with Christian beliefs."