The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into an evangelical Christian church in south London amid concerns that charitable funds might have been misapplied.
The regulator said today that it opened an operational compliance case on Rhema Church London in February after the charity’s auditor qualified its accounts for the year to the end of September 2013 because of uncertainty over how much of almost £280,000 of expenditure was made in fulfilment of the charity’s objects.
The commission said the auditor had been unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence about £203,707 spent on the Croydon-based charity’s credit cards and £76,161 of petty cash expenditure.
The sums included £86,055 spent on overseas development workshops, the regulator said.
"This raises regulatory concerns that charitable funds may have been misapplied," the commission said in a statement today.
The charity’s accounts for the year to the end of September 2014 have not yet been filed and are about seven weeks overdue, according to the charity’s entry on the commission’s online register.
It filed its annual return on 10 September, 42 days late. It showed that the charity had an income of £977,408 and an expenditure of £823,652 over the course of the year.
The commission said it had made an order for the trustees to provide information, but the trustees complied with this only partially during the operational compliance case.
"The commission is also concerned by evidence it received in July 2015 which states that the trustees rejected the conclusion of the auditor’s report," the commission said. "This and the trustees’ failure to fully comply with the commission’s order raises further regulatory concerns for the commission."
The regulator said its inquiry, which was opened on 3 August, will look at issues including the possible misappropriation and/or misapplication of charitable funds, the administration, governance and management of the charity, and whether there had been mismanagement or misconduct by those in charge of it.