Dear Church Family,
Since our statement released on 11 December 2014 on the commencement of legal proceedings against AMAC Capital Partners Pte Ltd (“AMAC Capital”) and Chew Eng Han (“Chew”), we have received requests for clarification on various issues from our members.
We hope to answer some of the common queries received in this follow-up statement:
AMAC Capital was appointed as CHC’s investment manager on 25 July 2007.
For the biblical basis of this question, please refer to the addendum below.
Chew’s main defence is that CHC has engaged in moneylending transactions without a moneylending license, thus rendering the investment contracts entered with AMAC Capital unenforceable.
According to Chew’s defence filed in Court, he is also alleging that:
CHC has denied the above allegations, including the moneylending allegations, in its reply filed in Court on 9 December 2014. CHC takes the view that these allegations are without merit and are contrary to the contents of the documentation executed by AMAC Capital and Chew.
The outstanding investments with AMAC Capital are only a part of CHC’s overall investments.
At CHC’s latest Annual General Meeting, the sum of CHC’s outstanding investments with AMAC Capital was impaired. Even after accounting for this impairment, based on management accounts, CHC saw an increase in the total value of its investment portfolio by S$73.45 million. This was largely due to an increase in the value of CHC’s stake in Suntec Convention Centre following the completion of Suntec’s Asset Enhancement Initiative.
The gains of S$73.45 million in CHC’s investment portfolio are more than sufficient to cover the church’s exposure in respect of the outstanding investments and as things stand, CHC’s investment portfolio is in a healthy position. Further, CHC has since taken active steps, including the implementation of a revised investment policy in 2013, to strengthen the financial safeguards in place.
As mentioned, CHC has obtained default judgment against AMAC Capital and is presently seeking to recover its outstanding investments against AMAC Capital. Until such enforcement proceedings are completed, the church is not in a position to comment on AMAC Capital’s ability to satisfy the judgment against it.
Commencing proceedings was the last resort for CHC.
The first contractual deadline for the redemption of part of CHC’s outstanding investments was more than four years ago, viz. 18 February 2010. Since then, AMAC Capital has requested for various extensions of time to redeem all of CHC’s outstanding investments and CHC has granted these requests (subject to AMAC Capital satisfying certain conditions).
The last payment (of accrued interest and partial repayment of CHC’s principal investment sum) was received by CHC on 5 May 2011 and since then, neither AMAC Capital nor Chew have made any further repayments.
The last extended deadline expired on 30 June 2012. Since then, CHC has tried its best not to engage in litigation against AMAC Capital and Chew, and to explore options for an amicable resolution of this issue instead. CHC has been in constant negotiations with AMAC Capital. Despite ample time given, no satisfactory proposal has been put forth by AMAC Capital or Chew in relation to the repayment of CHC’s outstanding investments.
These negotiations came to a halt earlier this year when AMAC Capital and Chew refused to further engage CHC.
The office of the Commissioner of Charities (“COC”) has been kept apprised of CHC’s attempts to recover these outstanding investments. COC reminded the Church Board that it was under a duty to protect the charitable property of CHC and recommended CHC to seek independent advice from its professional advisors.
Considering that more than 2 years had elapsed since the last extended deadline for AMAC Capital to redeem the outstanding investments, the Church Board was duty-bound to take further steps to recover its outstanding investments. It was only then legal proceedings were commenced.
Yes. CHC has given periodic updates to its EMs about the negotiations between CHC and AMAC Capital on the recovery of its outstanding investments. The last update was provided at the church’s latest AGM, when the impairment of the outstanding investments was told to the members.
Specifically, the Church Board informed the EMs that CHC was “committed to its ongoing efforts to redeem the outstanding tranches” and that CHC was “in negotiation with AMAC Capital to explore available options whilst updating the COC of all developments”.
The EMs were also informed that CHC may “have to consider legal action to recover the outstanding sums” after consulting its legal advisors.
The Church Board has apprised Dr. A.R. Bernard and Rev. Phil Pringle on its decision to commence proceedings. They were saddened but concluded that there seems to be no other recourse and concur with pursuing this course of action.
No. CHC’s outstanding investments are not related to the Crossover Project in any way whatsoever.
It is with great regret that CHC has to resort to litigation against a former member. As a registered charity, the Church is accountable to its membership. The commencement of legal proceedings was the only remaining option available to CHC to protect its members’ interests, given the fact that AMAC Capital was unable to provide any satisfactory repayment proposal even after lengthy negotiations.
With this latest development, the questions we may have in mind include:
According to 1 Cor. 6:1-8, a Christian should not file a civil lawsuit against another Christian in a secular court of law. Rather, the disputed matter should be arbitrated or judged by another wise Christian or a panel of Christians. But the context of 1 Cor. 6:1-8 deals with spiritual and moral disputes in the church, and matters that are considered “trivial” (NIV) or “small” (KJV). As much as possible, church problems should not be taken to the secular court system, but should be resolved within the church.
However, in our modern society, there are exceptional situations that may not fall squarely within this principle, especially when significant church funds are involved. What’s more, if a fellow Christian will not submit to Christian-based resolutions, then according to Matt. 18:17, as a last resort, a lawsuit in the secular court may be permitted.
However, due to the significant amount of funds involved, this dispute is not considered “trivial” or “small” (1 Cor. 6:2). The Church Board, as a legal entity to safeguard the interest of the church and its members, has a duty to pursue secular legal action. This decision was only made after much careful consideration, discussion and prayer. Moreover, the church has adopted the biblical principles of Matt. 18:15-17 in its course of action:
Matt. 18:15-17 states that a Christian, who is wronged by another Christian, should adopt the following four-step approach:
Step 1: Address the issue privately, alone with the other Christian whom you believe has wronged you. If that does not resolve the dispute, then proceed to the second step.
We have done that. Between October and November 2010, the Church Board had discussed and negotiated with Chew to resolve the outstanding tranches of investment with AMAC. On 30 October 2010, CHC granted an extension at AMAC Capital request for the outstanding tranches to be redeemed by 28 February 2011. However, by the due date, payment of the outstanding amounts was not made.
Step 2: Bring one or two other Christian persons to help convince the other person of his alleged erroneous ways. If this second step does not solve the problem, then proceed to the third step.
We have done that. After AMAC Capital’s default, negotiation ensued, resulting in CHC granting another extension of time on 17 August 2011 for AMAC Capital to redeem the outstanding investments by 30 June 2012. On 30 April 2012, Chew further gave a personal guarantee to repay the outstanding amounts due to CHC. However, AMAC Capital defaulted again on 30 June 2012.
Step 3: Bring the matter before the church. This is where a Christian dispute resolution process comes into play or use of private Christian mediation and/or arbitration. Agree with the other party, in signed writing, that any final decision by the decision-maker(s) is legally binding on all parties. Seek legal counsel to create a valid binding agreement. If, after a final decision about the matter is made, the alleged wrongdoer refuses to repent and admit his alleged wrongdoing or responsibility, then proceed to the fourth step.
We have done that. After AMAC Capital’s failure to redeem the outstanding investments on 30 June 2012, the Church Board tried to further negotiate with AMAC Capital and Chew in an attempt to amicably resolve this matter. On 7 April 2013, AMAC Capital and Chew gave CHC a Deed of Mortgage and Charge of Shares to provide CHC with security for the outstanding investments. However, to date, AMAC Capital has failed to fully redeem the outstanding investments.
During CHC’s AGM on 18 May 2014, the Church Board gave the EMs a chronological presentation on the steps taken by the Board to negotiate with AMAC Capital and Chew to resolve the outstanding investments. The Church Board also informed the EMs that as a final resort, CHC may have to consider legal action to recover the outstanding sums. However, it will do so when all options have been exhausted, and only after consultation with its legal advisors.
Step 4: Matt. 18:17 says, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Once all avenues have been exhausted, a believer could now, as a last resort, treat the person as someone foreign to the biblical process and principle, and therefore pursue the lawsuit against the alleged wrongdoer in a secular court.
On 13 October 2014, CHC’s lawyers served the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim on AMAC Capital.
On 20 October 2014, CHC’s lawyers proceeded to serve the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim on Chew.
It is with great sadness that the Church Board has to resort to litigation against a former member and his company. However, one must realise that the Bible does not strictly prohibit legal actions when it is done with the interest of the congregation as a whole. The church has honestly exhausted all available options in seeking an amicable settlement outside of the legal system. Hence, with great reluctance, this unpleasant decision was made.
Please continue to pray for wisdom and the spiritual protection of our church and its various ministries.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Aries Zulkarnain
President of the Management Board (on behalf of the Board)
City Harvest Church