The members of Matthew Ashimolowo’s Kingsway International Christian Center (KICC) give him their hard earned currency every weekend on the back of the prosperity gospel he preaches to them, which tells them that God blesses them based on how much they give to his church.
Of course, we are never told when/how any of the money reaches God and it’s always the preachers who seem to be enjoying the blessings – whilst the suffering masses keep bringing more and more as the vicious cycle goes on.
Despite taking all that money from their followers – records show the church took £5.3m in tithes in 2015 alone – those in charge took lax care of the funds, investing it in a Ponzi scheme run by a former footballer and church member, Richard Rufus.
This has led to the City of London Police opening an investigation into the fraud, The Guardian reports.
“Detectives from City of London police’s fraud teams are investigating,” a police spokesman confirmed to the site.
The investigation would be based on a report released by the Charity Commission in December. At the time, we reported on the £5m invested by the church in Rufus’ scheme on the promise of making unrealistic returns – investments which led to the church posting losses of £3.9m.
As we wrote at the time:
The Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), headed by Nigerian prophet Matthew Ashimolowo, has been duped out of funds close to £4m after they invested it in a Ponzi scheme.
Much like ordinary people who get taken in by greed and decide to invest in schemes promising them an unrealistic return on their investment, the entire church got taken in, as the trustees over its funds also decided to invest in a scheme promising them an unrealistic return on their money.
The fraudulent scheme was run by former English football player Richard Rufus, who was a former member and trustee of the church. A report by the Charity Commission for England and Wales looked into the scheme and found KICC invested $6.1 million (£5 million) in four installments between June 2009 and June 2010. The church, along with other defrauded investors, were promised returns as high as up to 55% on their investment – instead they suffered a net loss of $4.8 million (£3.9 million).
Upon payment of the first installment, the church entered into an agreement guaranteeing profits of 5% per month, with the exception of August and December when they were guaranteed profits of about 2.5 percent.
“The inquiry established that in practice, however, the investments resulted in a net loss of £3.9 million to the charity,” the report stated.
According to the Guardian, this is the second time the UK’s Charity Commission is investigating Ashimolowo. A 2005 investigation found “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.” He was removed from his role as CEO of the church and new trustees where put in place to manage the church’s funds as a result of that investigation.
The church denied Ashimolowo took any part of the decision to invest, even though he knew about it.
“[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.
“Neither the church or its trustees have been accused of or investigated by the UK authorities for wrongdoing”. the statement added.
Rufus, who ran the scheme which duped the church, was in 2015 found guilty of defrauding over a 100 people out of $10.7m in his innovative Ponzi scheme.