Just what is the City Harvest Church trial all about? An ex-church member went public about how there were rumbles among the church members that City Harvest Church, one of the largest churches in Singapore, was spending money the wrong way, by using donated money to continue funding Pastor Kong Hee’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun’s pop music career over in the US. It has since led to a trial in court with the next hearing set for September in Singapore.
The apex court in Singapore has given the go ahead to City Harvest Church’s ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, including his firm, to provide a defense for themselves against a S$21 million civil suit. He is allowed to do so without having to come up with a S$1.5 million security beforehand.
This is in contrast to the condition meted out by Judicial Commissioner Chua Lee Ming earlier, as Mr. Chua have the green light to Chew and his firm AMAC Capital Partners in order to fight a default judgment in which they were in debt of S$21 million to CHC in terms of unreturned investments. Out of the S$21 million, S$4.6 million were said to be in the form of accrued interest, and such investments have been made across a quartet of tranches.
In the course of arriving at such a decision, Judicial Commissioner Lee discovered that there was an ample amount of evidence for Chew to put forward his contention in an orderly and correct manner: that CHC had breached the Moneylenders Act. CHC allegedly did so by issuing illegal loans in return of high interest rates. However, it must be noted that this is applicable only for the initial three tranches of investments, while not including the fourth.
Should Chew want to make an argument concerning the fourth tranche, then he will need to fork out a S$1.5 million security, or so says the judge.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon did question whether it would be possible to draw a line between the tranches when the case was going to trial as he heard Chew and AMAC’s appeal against such a condition earlier this week on Tuesday. CHC lawyers argued that there is absolutely zero evidence that leans toward the allegation that there is a strong case for money lending where the fourth tranche of investments are concerned, and that a security is required should Chew and AMAC want to go ahead to make a defense of their claim, but the argument was overruled by the Court of Appeal.
Ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han had already left the church in June 2013 after getting embroiled in the whole issue. He is also currently placing an appeal against his conviction and sentence, doing so via a separate criminal case that also involves another five church leaders. The half dozen of them were convicted of misappropriating church funds, and hit with jail terms of 21 months all the way to eight years, depending on the severity of their crimes. It would be interesting to see how all of this will pan out in the end.