Ex-City Harvest leader nabbed trying to leave S'pore

The motorised sampan used by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han (above) in an attempt to leave Singapore yesterday. Chew, who was due to begin his jail term today, was arrested at sea along with another man who was piloting the boat.
The motorised sampan used by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han (above) in an attempt to leave Singapore yesterday. Chew, who was due to begin his jail term today, was arrested at sea along with another man who was piloting the boat.
The motorised sampan used by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han in an attempt to leave Singapore yesterday. Chew, who was due to begin his jail term today, was arrested at sea along with another man who was piloting the boat.
The motorised sampan used by former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han in an attempt to leave Singapore yesterday. Chew, who was due to begin his jail term today, was arrested at sea along with another man who was piloting the boat.

In the latest twist to the City Harvest Church (CHC) saga, its former fund manager Chew Eng Han, 57, was nabbed at sea yesterday morning while trying to leave Singapore illegally by boat.

Chew was due to begin his jail term of three years and four months today for his role in the largest case of misuse of charitable funds in Singapore's history.

But he was arrested along with another man, Tan Poh Teck, at 8.47am on board a motorised sampan, said police. Tan, 53, was piloting the sampan that had picked Chew up from the main jetty on Pulau Ubin, north-east of mainland Singapore.

The duo were caught in Singapore waters after they were intercepted by three Police Coast Guard vessels about 2.4km eastwards of the jetty. Chew was found with about $5,000 in cash and fishing equipment.

The Straits Times understands that when questioned, Chew and Tan claimed they were fishing.

But based on earlier information received, the police established that the duo were trying to leave Singapore illegally for Malaysia. They were arrested for "attempting to leave Singapore unlawfully at unauthorised point of departure" under the Immigration Act.

Those found guilty of this offence can face a jail term of up to six months and a $2,000 fine.

Police also arrested Chew Eng Soon, 61, yesterday for abetting the offence. Both Chews are believed to be brothers. The trio were held in lock-up at the Police Cantonment Complex. Tan and the younger Chew will be charged today.

Five other CHC leaders - including founder-pastor Kong Hee - who were also convicted of misusing church funds, began serving their sentences last April. But Chew, who was out on $1 million bail, had secured multiple deferments.

After his jail term - which was reduced from six years by the High Court in April last year - was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Feb 1, Chew asked to defer his sentence until after Chinese New Year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-City Harvest leader nabbed trying to leave S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe