SINGAPORE – Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi loves Singapore.
His ties are deep-rooted. Now in his 50s, he came here when he was 12. His children studied here. His retired father-in-law still lives here.
And when it comes to real estate, the permanent resident owns five or six pieces of property. He can’t remember the exact number.
His wife would know, he told the court yesterday.
“(She) normally looks after these properties,” he said.
As for those he remembers, think s****y areas like Sentosa Cove, Four Seasons and One Shenton Way.
He has not one but three Sentosa apartments, including an Oceanfront penthouse which is co-owned by City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee.
Mr Wahju said he and Kong have been paying $17,000 a month each for the penthouse at Ocean Drive since 2008.
He was testifying at the trial of Kong and five others who are accused of misusing more than $50 million of church funds – $24 million to fund the singing career of Kong’s wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and another $26.6 million to cover that amount.
Now based in Papua New Guinea, the businessman jets to Singapore every two weeks for business and to attend church services.
In 1990, Mr Wahju moved his family to Singapore and joined CHC.
He got to know Kong, though the two became close only eight years after he joined CHC.
The father of four and grandfather of two girls is an ordinary church member.
His wife is an executive member and holds voting rights at the church’s annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings.
Touched by Ms Ho’s concerts, he promised to sponsor her for the Crossover Project, a church mission started in 2002 to reach out to non-Christians through music.
Xtron Productions was set up “to pay for Sun’s singing career” and Mr Wahju was director from 2003 to 2007. Xtron managed Ms Ho from 2003 to 2008.
While Kong was not directly involved in the Xtron set-up, “indirectly, we shared the same common goal, which is to minister and win young people’s souls in North Asia,” Mr Wahju said.
In the 2008 financial crisis, Mr Wahju lost $2 million investing in Russian bonds.
“It was the biggest loss in my life. Personally it was a painful experience to lose $2 million of own money that you worked hard for,” he said.
But his biggest financial problem stemmed from a Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) investigation, he said.
A $62 million deal with a French company to buy his glassware company (PT The First National Glassware, also known as Firna in Jakarta) fell through when the media carried news of the CAD probe.
He was on bail for three years, he said.
When the news came out last year, banks started calling back their loans.
Normally, business people would Google his name when they want to meet him, but when the case came up, people made him out to be a crook, he said.