City Harvest Church gives up seeking S$26.5 million repayment from Chew Eng Han & his firm

The decision was put to a vote.

Belmont Lay| August 24, 04:17 PM

City Harvest Church will cease pursuing the repayment of S$26.5 million from its former fund manager Chew Eng Han and his investment firm AMAC Capital Partners.

The church decided as a collective to stop all efforts to recover the sum.

This means it will also give up all rights to the money.

Decision made via voting

This decision was reached after the church called for an extraordinary general meeting on July 23, 2019 for executive members of the church to vote on the issue.

Executive members of the church have voting rights.

In 2014, the church sued Chew and AMAC for investments amounting to millions of dollars that were not returned to the church.

But the proceedings came to halt when Chew was sentenced to jail.

Two options

A notice posted on the church's website listed out the two options to take with regards to the millions of dollars owed.

The choices were to write the sum off or continue to pursue for its return with no guarantees it will be successful.

Pursuing all avenues to recover some money could result in bankrupting Chew and/ or liquidating AMAC.

Thinking of issue in Christian terms

In the lengthy announcement detailing the proceedings of the extraordinary general meeting, both options were couched in Christian terminology and made references to biblical perspectives.

The first option of writing off the debt demonstrates the Christian virtues of mercy and forgiveness.

The second option follows the Christian principle of being a "faithful steward of what the Lord has put in our hands".

But by pursuing the second option, the church's lawyers advised that there could be potential legal fees ranging from S$30,000 to over S$350,000.

Further legal action might not yield any returns as repayment was conditional on Chew and his firm having the money to make repayment.

Outcome neck-to-neck

Most surprising were the eventual results of the vote, which showed almost equal numbers wanting to forgive the debt and to pursue the return of the money.

Some 50.6 percent of the executive members voted for debt forgiveness, while 47.6 percent voted for the pursuing of the return of the money.

Some 1.8 percent abstained.

About church's civil suit against Chew

In its original civil suit against Chew and AMAC, the church claimed that the company had "solicited" it to participate in AMAC's "special opportunities" investment fund in 2009.

Chew decided in 2017 to stop contesting the suit.

This was after he failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with the church board.

He had also ceased being a worshipper at City Harvest Church by then.

The church has also denied Chew's claim that the religious outfit had used his firm as a vehicle to lend money to others.

The Straits Times reported that the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority showed that AMAC is no longer in existence now as it has been struck off.

Church founder Kong Hee remains a spiritual leader in the church following his release from prison on Thursday, Aug. 22.

About Chew now

Chew is currently in jail.

He and five other church leaders were jailed.

The case was the largest one in Singapore involving the misuse of charitable funds.

Chew had his sentence of three years and four months extended by 13 months.

This was after he tried to flee the country a day before he was to begin serving the jail term in February 2018.

Chew will be the last of the City Harvest leaders to finish his sentence.

Top photo via City Harvest Church