The Charity Commission has appointed interim managers to an evangelical Christian church in south London amid concerns that charitable funds may have been misapplied.
The regulator announced in September that it had opened a statutory inquiry into the Rhema Church London 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 in September 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 charity’s accounts for the year to the end of September 2014 have not yet been filed and are 145 days overdue, according to the charity’s entry on the commission’s online register.
It filed its annual return on 10 September, 42 days late, which showed that the charity had an income of £977,408 and an expenditure of £823,652 over the course of the year.
In a statement today, the commission said the joint interim managers, Helen Briant and Keith Mills of the law firm DWF, would take over the management and administration of the charity on a temporary basis to take control of and protect the charity’s assets.
They have also been asked to conduct a review of the charity’s governance and administration, including its internal financial controls and policies, its overseas activities and its arrangements with people working on its behalf.
"The review will also examine whether there has been (and, if so, to what extent) any breach of duty and/or trust by the charity trustees in relation to the operation of the charity, and what steps may be necessary and in the best interests of the charity to regularise any breaches of duty and/or trust," the commission said.
The regulator said the interim managers would ensure that the charity’s overdue accounts were filed.
It said the church’s religious activities would not be affected by the appointments and the interim managers would work with senior pastors to ensure its Sunday services were not disrupted.
The church declined to comment.