6:47 am - Sunday November 19, 2017

SHOCKING: ‘We Are Investigating MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO, a Nigerian Pastor for £3.9 million FRAUD’-City of LONDON * This involves a former premier league footballer who lost £3.9 million from Kingsway International Christian Centre in a ‘disastrous investment scheme’ * Criminal Investigation follows Charity Commission report into ‘mismanagement’ at the church, where £5 million cash of Richard Rufus, former Charlton Athletic player was invested * PLUS How Ashimolowo used church assets to buy a £13,000 Florida timeshare, spent £120,000 on birthday celebrations, including £80,000 on a car. BY CHIOMA UBELEKE/RELIGIOUS STAFF WRITER, SOUTH LONDON

SHOCKING:
‘We Are Investigating MATTHEW ASHIMOLOWO, a Nigerian Pastor for £3.9 million FRAUD’-City of LONDON

* This involves a former premier league footballer who lost £3.9 million from Kingsway International Christian Centre in a ‘disastrous investment scheme’
* Criminal Investigation follows Charity Commission report into ‘mismanagement’ at the church, where £5 million cash of Richard Rufus, former Charlton Athletic player was invested
* PLUS How Ashimolowo used church assets to buy a £13,000 Florida timeshare, spent £120,000 on birthday celebrations, including £80,000 on a car.

BY CHIOMA UBELEKE/RELIGIOUS STAFF WRITER, SOUTH LONDON

THESE ARE TRYING TIMES FOR Nigerian Born Naturalized British famous pastor, Matthew Ashimolowo, General Overseer of Kingsway International Christian Centre, a former top pastor in Four Square Church. This smooth-talking pastor and his church are being investigated by City of London police for Fraud.

According to report, officers of the City of London police are investigating an alleged fraud involving a former premier league footballer who lost £3.9 million from Kingsway International Christian Centre, owned by Ashimolowo. This aan footballer lost the money to one of Britain’s richest evangelical churches in a “disastrous investment scheme”.

The criminal investigation follows a Charity Commission report into “mismanagement” at Kingsway International Christian Center (KICC) which invested £5 million with Richard Rufus, former Charlton Athletic player.

Rufus was found by a civil court judge in 2015, a civil court judge indicted Rufus for operating a Ponzi-style scheme between 2007 and 2011, losing or spending £8 million from several investors.

Rufus was a leading member of the KICC. Rufus whose “founder, visionary and senior pastor” is Matthew Ashimolowo, a Nigerian evangelist who preaches a “health and wealth” gospel to a congregation of thousands at his “Prayer Palace” in Kent. The largely African and Caribbean churchgoers are urged to give regular tithes and the church collected £5.8m from them in 2015, according to the latest accounts.

Quoting documents it obtained, the newspaper said the church, which is populated by Africans and Caribbeans, collected £5.8 million from its members in 2015.

In 2009 and 2010, the trustees reportedly agreed to give Rufus £5 million to invest after he promised them returns of 55 percent a year at a time when interest rates were less than 1 percent.

As well as millions in donations from churchgoers – which were boosted by gift aid tax relief – it had recently received £10 million from the London Development Agency, a public body that needed to demolish the church’s then home in east London to build the Olympic Park.

“Detectives from City of London police’s fraud teams are investigating,” a police spokesman confirmed. There have been no arrests.

In a damning set of conclusions published in December, the Charity Commission said the trustees “did not exercise sufficient care” when they gave Rufus the church’s money.

The regulator said they failed to check if Rufus had any investment qualifications or experience and gave little thought to the extraordinarily high rate of return Rufus was promising.

The church’s senior management team concluded his “personal guarantee makes this as safe an investment as any” and produced a report on the investment that included no checks on Rufus’s past investment performance or any references from clients. For the records, it is the second time the Charity Commission has had to investigate the church.

In 2005, when it was known as the King’s Ministries Trust, the regulator ordered Ashimolowo to repay £200,000 after it emerged he used church assets to buy a £13,000 Florida timeshare and spent £120,000 on his birthday celebrations, including £80,000 on a car.

New trustees were appointed and Ashimolowo was removed from his role as chief executive. Recently, KICC issued a statement of Ashimolowo in the deal.

The statement signed by Dipo Oluyomi, chief executive officer and James McGlashan, chief operating officer for the church said the investment was made seven and a half years ago.

KICC admitted that its trustees made the decision to invest in the scheme, but said Ashimolowo had nothing to do with it.

Source: The Cable

 

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Police investigate £3.9m fraud at Ashimolowo church

Police have opened a fraud inquiry after it was found that a prosperity gospel church lost millions of investments managed by a footballer who has now been found guilty of fraud.

Kingsway International Christian Centre lost £3.9m of the £5m investments it made with former Charlton Athletic footballer Richard Rufus, in what the Charity Commission has called ‘mismanagement’. The City of London police are now investigating the alleged fraud, as the Guardian reports.

Richard Rufus was found guilty in 2015 of having operated a Ponzi-style scheme between 2007 and 2011, through which he lost or spent £8m from different investors.

Rufus was a key member of KICC, a predominantly African and Caribbean church where members are encouraged to tithe regularly. The church received £5.8m in donations in 2015. KICC’s pastor is Nigerian evangelist Matthew Ashimolowo, a prosperity gospel pastor with a net worth of $6-10 million, according to Forbes.

In 2009 trustees of the church agreed to give Rufus £5m in investments after he promised returns of 55 per cent per year. At the time, national interest rates were below one per cent. The church’s investment included millions from churchgoers, supplemented by gift aid from the government.

A report by the Charity Commission in 2015 said that KICC did not ‘exercise sufficient care’ when giving Rufus the money. The trustees had believed that Rufus’ ‘personal guarantee makes this as safe an investment as any’, but had not check Rufus’ investment history, or qualifications, nor questioned the high interest rate that had been promised.

KICC said that the trustees ‘acted in good faith and had no reason to suspect that the investment on behalf of the charity would go wrong’. None of the trustees who were part of the decision are acting trustees now.

It was reported in 2015 that Rufus accepted over £16m in investments from 2007-2011, in an unauthorised breach of financial regulations. He lost £5m through currency-exchange trading and used over £3m for his “own purposes”.

A police spokesman said: ‘Detectives from City of London police’s fraud teams are investigating.’
This is the second investigation that the KICC has faced from the Charity Commission. In 2005 the church’s pastor Ashimolowo had to repay £200,000 after it was revealed he had used church assets to buy a £13,000 Florida timeshare, and spent £120,000 on his own birthday celebrations, including £80,000 on a car. Ashimolowo is KICC’s ‘founder, visionary and senior pastor’, who also travels the world preaching a prosperity gospel, sharing how God desires people to be wealthy, and teaching about the ‘irrevocable laws of wealth creation’.

The church said that Ashimolowo knew about the investment with Rufus, but was not part of the investment decision itself as he is not on the board of trustees.

‘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,’ they said.

 

 

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