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Chew: Church aware of risks

I was just a vehicle for the church to carry out its moneylending activities.

That is what Chew Eng Han, 54, has claimed in his defence against City Harvest Church's (CHC) statement that his company owed the church $21 million.

In his written defence, Chew refuted the claims made by CHC.

He said he was merely an agent of the church and he denied liability for the investments.

Chew also said that the CHC board was fully aware and kept informed of the investments as well as of the risks involved.

He also denied that he had solicited the church to invest in Amac Capital Partners' special opportunities fund. Instead, he said CHC had participated with the full knowledge of the risks involved.

He also claimed that about $12.2 million was to be loaned in four tranches to a Mr Akihiko Matsumura of biotech firm Transcu Group, which has since changed its name to OLS Enterprise.

The interest for one of the tranches, Chew claimed, went as high as 25 per cent for the duration of that loan.

Chew also claimed that $350,000 was loaned to former CHC investment committee member Charlie Lay on the instructions of CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng.

'LETTERS OF COMFORT'

As to why there were extensions to the repayment of the church's money, Chew claimed that it was the borrower who could not repay the loans.

In CHC's statement of claim, the church said that Amac had provided documents stating the firm's debt to the church. But Chew claimed that these were merely "letters of comfort" to appease the church.

He also claimed that the personal guarantee that he had signed for the investments was just to comfort the CHC board.

"(CHC) only required... so as to give assurance to the members of the board that all was in order in respect of the loans," Chew said, adding that he was promised that the personal guarantee would not be enforced.

He claimed he had always acted in good faith and in the best interest of the church and had merely been following instructions and directions set by CHC.

But in CHC's filed reply to Chew's defence, the church claimed that it was never in the business of moneylending and that the money placed in Amac were not loans but commercial transactions with guaranteed returns.

CHC also claimed that it had relied on its investment manager's advice and expertise concerning the investments, and did not give any directions or instructions.

It said that once it had invested the money, it did not have any more control over the use of the funds.

CHC also denied having any contact with Mr Matsumura and claimed it was not aware that money had been loaned to him.