City Harvest trial

City Harvest trial: Ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han counters claims

Chew Eng Han, outside the court last week. In a reply posted on a blog, Chew, who is being sued by the church for $21 million in unreturned investments, rebutted allegations made over the weekend.
Chew Eng Han, outside the court last week. In a reply posted on a blog, Chew, who is being sued by the church for $21 million in unreturned investments, rebutted allegations made over the weekend.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

In a post on a blog, Chew Eng Han rebuts allegations made against him by church

Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han has rebutted allegations made against him by the church during its weekend services.

Yesterday, in a reply posted on a blog, Chew, who is being sued by the church for $21 million in unreturned investments, said he had been silent since the start of the suit and it was time to reveal the "half-truths and lies".

At Saturday evening's service, the church's investment committee chairman, Mr Rick Chan, said: "Many attempts were made by us to recover these investments... Eng Han even gave us a personal guarantee and agreed to an increased rate of interest for these investments.

"However, despite over four years of negotiations, we were unable to reach any satisfactory resolution."

But Chew countered that he had been "duped" by the church into signing a personal guarantee (PG) for the investments in the church's Special Opportunities Fund (SOF).

 

According to court documents, the church had provided 16 tranches of high-interest loans of at least $3 million to Transcu Group from 2009 to 2010. Chew's firm, AMAC Capital Partners, was appointed the church's investment manager in 2007. While most of the money was paid back by AMAC, it could not do so for four tranches as Transcu had defaulted on the loans.

Chew yesterday gave his account of the negotiations behind the repayment plan to recover losses in these investments, to counter the impression that he had "refused to bear responsibility and refused to engage in reasonable discussions".

He said CHC board members were reluctant to sign the plan last year, as it had a section documenting the board's knowledge and approval of the investments.

Chew had tried to include this section after learning that board members had "feigned ignorance" about the SOF. He noted that the board had portrayed him "as some untamed fund manager who had put monies into the SOF without explaining to the board about the underlying nature and risks".

Calling this a "twisted distortion", he said the court had found board members to have full knowledge from the beginning of the SOF.

The civil suit was a shock to him, he said, as he heard nothing from the church about the repayment plan he submitted. He said up till early last year, he had made repeated requests for the church to arrange a meeting with the Commissioner of Charities to explain the troubled investments. But it did not do so.

Chew added: "I was duped by them to sign a PG on the basis that it would apparently provide a reason for them to hold off the Commissioner of Charities' pressure."

He said he signed the guarantee after CHC pastor Bobby Chaw assured him that the church did not intend to enforce it. Chew was one of six CHC leaders given jail terms last Friday for the misuse of church funds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-fund manager counters claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe