Dateline: Lion City
A FORMER Singapore Airlines pilot is suing his wife and other members of his family over a S$1.8mil (RM4mil) two-storey bungalow in Sembawang co-owned by them.
Steven Joshua, 56, wants the High Court to allow him to sell it and distribute the proceeds according to each co-owner’s contribution.
He is claiming 75% of the proceeds because he says he made the biggest contribution.
The house was bought for S$700,000 (RM1.5mil) in 1986 and registered in the names of Joshua, his wife Deborah, 55, his sisters Rachel, 50, and Rebekah, 47, and the latter’s husband Isaac Benjamin, 49.
The family members belonged to a religious group known as the House of Israel, which made the headlines nine years ago after three of its members lost a libel suit filed against The Straits Times for describing it as a “sect” in a 1989 report.
In the suit, Joshua says he contributed his Central Provident Fund savings of more than S$200,000 (RM440,000) to the house, while the others, between S$10,800 (RM23,700) and S$23,400 (RM51,000).
This is the second time the house has been the subject of a lawsuit. In 1996, Mr and Mrs Benjamin filed a suit against the other three co-owners. They settled the matter through mediation and it was agreed that the couple be given a 20% share.
They are not contesting the present claim although they are named as defendants.
Joshua is also suing three other couples belonging to the religious group who are living in the house now. He wants them out of the house and to pay damages for trespass.
They are: Joseph Aaron, 57, his wife Anne, 55; Samuel Abraham, 39, his wife Lydia, 38; Aquila Moses, 40, and his wife Priscilla, 34.
However, they say that they are not trespassing.
The eight defendants – the three couples, Joshua’s wife and his sister Rachel – claim that Joshua had been holding his share of the property for them in trust.
Lawyer James Leslie Ponniah, acting for Joshua, said in his opening statement that the three couples accused of trespassing had made no financial contribution towards the house.
However, defence lawyer Daniel John said that S$70,000 (RM155,000) from a common kitty that all the group’s members had contributed to had been invested in the house.
Joshua told the court he did not know how much of this was his, because he had handed his salary to his wife and left it to her to make the contributions. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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