The Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre, KICC, London, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo has reportedly lost about $5m to a Ponzi scheme in the United Kingdom.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Ashimolowo’s 12,000-member mega church in Britain lost the huge amount of money after the worship house’s trustees carelessly invested money in a Ponzi scheme.
The scamming of Pastor Ashimolowo’s church was reportedly perfected by former Premier League soccer player Richard Rufus, an ex-defender for Charlton Athletic.
Rufus had promised investors along with KICC a return as high as 55 per cent.
NAN quotes the Christian Post as reporting that the findings of an inquiry published on December 14, 2016 by the Charity Commission for England and Wales revealed that KICC, which is based in Kent. suffered a net loss of about $4.8 million (£3.9 million) after its trustees invested over $6.1 million (£5 million) in four instalments between June 2009 and June 2010.
The church worked with Rufus because he was a member and former trustee of the church and had guaranteed that the investments would earn as high as 55 per cent in a year.
Rufus was however found guilty of defrauding about 100 investors out of a total of $10,731,159 (£8,682,343) in the £16-million investing scheme in 2015.
According to findings, KICC was the single largest investor in the scheme.
The Charity Commission said in the report that the church’s trustees who handed over the funds were guilty of “mismanagement.”
NAN reports further that the commission, during its inquiry, appointed an interim manager to review the trustees’ decisions to invest the £5 million.
The interim manager found that the trustees did not investigate enough nor consider that the rate of return they were promised was realistic and put too much trust in the trustee’s good standing with the church and community.
“The interim manager found that conflicts of interest were not managed properly by the decision-making trustees when making the decision to invest.
There was too much reliance on the expertise of the ex‑trustee when he was personally interested and conflicted,” the report states.
“The interim manager found that insufficient consideration was given by the decision-making trustees as to whether the guaranteed rate of return was unrealistically high, or to the potential for fraud.”
Attempt by the church to get back its money failed when Rufus filed for bankruptcy and was declared bankrupt in 2013.
The church is however yet to respond officially to its lost in the scheme.