SINGAPORE - Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han, who has been sued by the church for almost $21 million, has decided to throw in the towel.
In a media statement late on Wednesday night (Aug 30), Chew, 57, said he has decided to stop contesting the suit after failing to reach an out-of-court settlement with the church board after negotiations for the "past few weeks".
Chew, who left CHC in June 2013 after 17 years, is one of six people - including founder Kong Hee - who have been convicted and sentenced to varying jail terms for misusing millions in church funds in a separate high-profile criminal case.
"I have instructed my lawyer Rajandran to drop all work and to let judgement be entered against Amac and myself. Besides the financial costs, I do not wish to go to court to fight against a church," he said in the statement.
"Furthermore, the church would be calling upon witnesses such as Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng and John Lam, and I do not want to subject them to cross examination as they have already gone through enough."
Kong, 52, deputy senior pastor Tan, 44, and former finance committee member Lam, 49, are are currently serving their jail terms.
In October 2014, the church filed a civil suit against Chew and his company, Amac Capital Partners, seeking almost $21 million in unreturned investments, including $4.6 million in interest.
The church claimed that the defendants had "solicited" it to participate in its special opportunities fund on March 17, 2009.
The church said it agreed to Amac's request for more time to pay back money given in four tranches beginning between November 2009 and May 2010, along with the promised interest. But it also increased the interest rates.
It said that even though Amac returned some of the money, it was still owed $20.99 million.
In a written defence filed a month later, Chew rejected the claims.
He said the church had set up the special opportunities fund in 2009 so it could lend "surplus funds" to Mr Akihiko Matsumura of biotech firm Transcu Group, which has since changed its name to OLS Enterprise.
Chew also claimed that $350,000 was lent to former CHC investment committee member Charlie Lay on the instructions of the church's deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng.
Documents provided by Amac stating the firm's debt to CHC were merely "letters of comfort" to appease the church, Chew claimed.
The church's written reply to Chew's defence, filed on Dec 9, states it was never in the business of moneylending. Instead, the investments were commercial transactions with guaranteed returns.
CHC also denied having any contact with Mr Matsumura and said it was not aware that money would be lent to him.