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Tan Tam Mei
The Straits Times
16 April 2017
Almost two years after it was put up for sale, the Sentosa Cove apartment co-owned by City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee remains unsold.
The Sunday Times understands that Kong, 52, and his family - wife Ho Yeow Sun and son Dayan - are still living in The Oceanfront duplex penthouse that he co-owns with Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi.
The 5,242 sq ft unit has also been taken off the market, sources told The Sunday Times.
In 2015, Kong had said that the Sentosa Cove penthouse was "only our temporary home, until the property is sold".
A video posted on CHC's Facebook page late last month showed Kong, Ms Ho and other church members seated at a balcony similar to that of the Sentosa Cove property.
Kong and Mr Hanafi bought the apartment for $9.33 million in 2007 and each paid monthly instalments of $17,000.
In 2015, The Straits Times reported on the property being listed with the asking price of $10 million. Kong said then that his family moved into the Sentosa Cove home after he had to sell his other properties to pay his legal fees.
The latest Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore records show that it remains today under the names of Kong and Mr Hanafi. Kong and five other former and current CHC members have chalked up millions of dollars in lawyers' fees in the most expensive criminal trial in Singapore history, which started in May 2013. All six have been convicted of varying charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying church accounts.
Kong and other defendants, John Lam, Tan Ye Peng, Serina Wee, and Sharon Tan, are represented by lawyers, many of them senior counsel.
The sixth defendant, former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, has been representing himself since May 2014.
Following a High Court appeal last Friday which saw jail terms for all six defendants cut, the prosecution has referred the case to the Court of Appeal - and legal fees can only be expected to climb.
Lawyers estimated that the costs could possibly run up to a record $15 million.
A note on CHC's website suggested that church members could help the six defendants with their legal fees. It stated: "As you can imagine, their families have many needs... While the church is restricted by the authorities from helping them to pay for their legal fees, individual members are free to support them. As always, keep them and their families in prayer."
Members that The Sunday Times spoke to said that they remain supportive of their church leaders but they do not intend to contribute to paying off their legal fees.
Said Mr Andrew Kho, 33, a strategic partnership manager who has been a church member for five years: "Our priority is not to raise legal fees, in fact this was never brought up before.
"We can give support by continuing to attend services and be faithful towards the church and our leaders during this time when many others have left."
Another church member, Mr Eric Wong, 38, declined to comment on whether he would support the leaders' legal fees.
However, Mr Wong, a music producer who has been with the church for 18 years, said: "But I'm sure there will be other church members who will want to and will be able to contribute in this area.
"For the rest of us, we just want to get on with our usual church activities."