The UK Charity Commission has indicted for fraud the board of trustees of the UK branch of Christ Embassy founded by popular preacher and televangelist, Chris Oyakhilome.
The indictment follows a five-year investigation into the church’s finances.
The inquiry published by the Charity Commission on its website in November, said that the church’s board of trustees was incriminated for shoddy management of the church’s account, arbitrary and curious payments, failure to comply with its grant-making policy, inadequate recording of its decision making processes and serious misconduct and/or mismanagement in the charity’s administration.
It also said that there is evidence the church might be diverting funds of up to N288 million (£615,420) from its UK branches to six accounts controlled by the church’s branch in Nigeria.
The Charity Commission also found that the church, founded in 1996 with over 90 worship centres across the UK, illegally registered three properties in the names of two members of its board of trustees, failed to pay taxes worth over £250,000 on expenditures by employees, failed to secure adequate insurance, and had an instance of criminal violation of British town planning and building regulations.
The commission began the inquiry in 2014. After interviewing members of the church’s board of trustees, the commission, still unsatisfied, tossed the board aside and appointed Rod Weston of the international audit and accounting firm, Mazar, as interim manager of the church in what it described as “temporary and protective measure.”
Mr Weston, in the final report published on November 14, said the scope of the inquiry was to examine the church’s transactions with “partner organisations” including “grants made to a number of unidentified entities and Loveworld Television Ministry, Healing School, International School of Ministry, Christ Embassy France, Christ Embassy Canada, IPCC Conference and Rhapsody of Realities.”
Part of the report said: “During 2009-2011, the charity’s accounts show grants amounting to £1,281,666 were paid to Loveworld Television Ministry; £118,995 to Healing School, £186,616 to International School of Ministry, £10,000 to Christ Embassy Canada, £10,566 to Christ Embassy France, £37,216 to IPPC Conference and £77,266 to Rhapsody of Realities.”
It added: “Documents examined, by the IM, demonstrated a lack of records and receipts to account for grants made and there appeared to be little consideration given to whether the receiving parties had expended grants appropriately and for intended purposes, as was required by the policy.
“This demonstrates a failure to comply with its grant-making policy and inadequate recording of decision making by the trustees which is misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.”
The interim manager appointed a new board of trustees for the church in 2016.