SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and his family moved into his co-owned Sentosa Cove home only after he had to sell his properties to pay for legal fees, he said in a Facebook post on Thursday night.
The 50-year-old pastor had posted the message in response to The Straits Times report "Kong Hee puts Sentosa Cove home on sale for $10m", published (July 2).
Kong said: "The property that my family and I have been living in is co-owned with another family. We have been living at this property with the co-owner's kind permission after we had to sell our properties in order to pay the legal expenses for the ongoing trial."
Kong and five others are alleged to have misused $50 million of church funds and then falsified church accounts to cover up the misuse. They are accused of funnelling millions from the church's building fund to pay for the Crossover Project, to boost the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun.
In a trial spanning two years, the court heard that the 50-year-old pastor, who is facing three charges of criminal breach of trust, co-owned The Oceanfront penthouse with Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi.
Kong said he was "surprised and saddened by the contents of the article".
He disputed an investor's description of the furnishings in his duplex penthouse, after visiting it, as "lavish and opulent". The investor who spoke to The Straits Times on the condition of anonymity, had said that Kong's home "is decorated with quality furniture and top of the range equipment. It gives me the impression that the owner sure knows how to enjoy the high life".
In his response, Kong said he is particularly surprised by that description.
"Suffice to say that those who know and are around me, my family and friends, know perfectly well what we have gone through over the past five years, and what we continue to go through today can hardly be called 'the high life'," said Kong.
He added that he does not own a yacht and has been trying to sell the property for some time.
The 5,242 sq ft duplex which comes with a huge rooftop infinity pool and overlooks the upmarket One Degree 15 Marina Club, was bought for $9.33 million in 2007.
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