The police in London, United Kingdom, may have commenced fraud investigations into alleged mismanagement of finances at Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), the church of popular Nigerian Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo.
The UK Guardian reports that the criminal investigation by the City of London police followed a report of the Charity Commission which found KICC lost most of £5 million invested by the former Charlton footballer Richard Rufus, a Ponzi scheme operator.
“Detectives from City of London police’s fraud teams are investigating,” an unnamed police spokesman confirmed, although no arrests have been made.
The Guardian reports that Charity Commission accused the church’s former trustees who invested in Rufus’ Ponzi scheme of “not exercise(ing) sufficient care” when they gave Rufus the church’s money.
The Commission said they failed to check if Rufus had any investment qualifications or experience and gave little thought to the extraordinarily high rate of return the former Premier League footballer was promising yet concluded that his “personal guarantee makes this as safe an investment as any”.
The church’s chief operating officer, James McGlashan, said that Pastor Ashimolowo knew about the investment with Rufus but denied his being any part of the decision to invest the money as he was not a trustee of the KICC.
“(The trustees’) actions were totally independent and were not influenced in any way by pastor Ashimolowo,” said Dipo Oluyomi, KICC chief executive in a statement.
KICC said the trustees “acted in good faith and had no reason to suspect that the investment on behalf of the charity would go wrong” and that “pastor Ashimolowo is not one of the trustees was not part of the decision to make the investment that went wrong and that neither the church or its trustees have been accused of or investigated by the UK authorities for wrongdoing”.