City Harvest founder Kong Hee's Sentosa Cove penthouse sold at a loss of over $2m

SEP 2, 2018

Joyce Lim

A luxury Sentosa Cove penthouse that City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee co-owned has finally been sold - three years after it was first put on the market.

The buyer is Kenyan diplomat Neal Manilal Chandaria, whose family is in the process of moving in.

The 5,242 sq ft waterway-facing unit at The Oceanfront changed hands in April for $7.2 million. This represents a loss of over $2 million for Kong and his co-owner - Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi - who had bought it for $9.33 million in 2007. Each paid monthly instalments of $17,000.

The new owner told The Sunday Times he knew the penthouse belonged to Kong and "it was a good opportunity" to have gotten it at that price. He had viewed it four times before signing on the dotted line.

Mr Chandaria, who currently lives in a landed property on Sentosa, said he enjoys the lifestyle on the island - "it's very nice that it's quiet and away from the city".

News of the Sentosa Cove property had stoked controversy when it emerged in 2015 that Kong and his family were living in it, even as they appealed for donations to pay for his legal fees in Singapore's most expensive criminal court case.

The former pastor is currently serving a 3Ĺ-year jail sentence for misappropriation of church funds. He and five others were convicted last year for funnelling some $50 million from the church's building fund to pay for the Crossover Project, to boost the career of Kong's singer wife Ho Yeow Sun.

The duplex penthouse, which was relisted several times over the past three years, was eventually sold by Edmund Tie & Company. When contacted, the company's head of auction sales Joy Tan declined comment.

The Sunday Times understands that the sale came with some of the imported crystal light fixtures left behind by Kong.

The 11th-storey penthouse comes with a private lift, four bedrooms, an entertainment room and a jacuzzi. Its crown jewel is a huge rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the upmarket One Degree 15 Marina Club, offering views of luxury yachts entering the marina and the city's skyline and fireworks during festivities.

In 2015, when The Straits Times first reported that Kong had put up the penthouse for sale for $10 million, he responded in a Facebook post to say that it was only a temporary home which he put up in after selling his other properties. He also denied "living the high life", as described by an investor who visited his penthouse.

It was a long way from the flat that Kong and Ho had lived in, when they married in 1992. Home then was a $127,000 five-room HDB flat in Tampines. They later upgraded to a million-dollar Horizon Towers unit in River Valley.

In 2010, the family moved into a $2.6 million condo unit in The Suites at Central on Devonshire Road.

Kong was arrested at his Sentosa Cove penthouse in 2012.