City Harvest trial: Former fund manager says he was bound by confidentiality

Former fund manager Chew Eng Han, one of the six members of City Harvest Church accused of criminal breach of trust, told the court on Tuesday that he would have done things differently and more openly, had he not been bound by a "duty to confidentia
Former fund manager Chew Eng Han, one of the six members of City Harvest Church accused of criminal breach of trust, told the court on Tuesday that he would have done things differently and more openly, had he not been bound by a "duty to confidentiality". -- ST PHOTO:  WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - One of the six members of City Harvest Church accused of criminal breach of trust told the court on Tuesday that he would have done things differently and more openly, had he not been bound by a "duty to confidentiality".

Former church fund manager Chew Eng Han, 54, in his second day on the witness stand, tried to show that the secrecy had been because of church founder Kong Hee.

"Kong Hee was stressing on confidentiality," he said.

The church's apparent lack of disclosure over funding, and lackadaisical progress of its evangelising project through the music of pastor Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun, has been questioned repeatedly by the prosecution, which has alleged that $50 million in church funds were misused.

Yesterday, Chew said: "As a professional fund manager, we do have a duty to confidentiality, for instance, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) is appointed to government officials, and owes a duty to government officials to only reveal what the people appointing them agree to, although the monies belong to the public."

He was thus similarly "bound by the professional requirements not to even tell the church executive members" about investments made on behalf of the church through bonds.

Had he not been "under authority", Chew said he would have held a meeting to tell church members about the bonds and evangelising project.

"If I had a choice, I would have disclosed, because after all it was people's money, but for the sake of privacy, and for the sake of preserving the project...I went along with it," said Chew.

He added that he had taken Kong's instruction "as spiritual wisdom" and not "part of a conspiracy".

hpeishan@sph.com.sg