Charity Commission appoints interim manager at charity that lost £6.9m

The Kingsway International Christian Centre, based in east London, has been under investigation since 2011 after a trustee invested charity assets in financial markets

The Kingsway International Christian Centre
The Kingsway International Christian Centre

The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager at a large Christian charity after it lost £6.9m through investments.

The regulator has announced that Helen Harvie, a consultant at the solicitors Barlow Robbins, will assess whether the former trustees of the Kingsway International Christian Centre, which is based in east London, are liable for the amounts lost as a result of the unsuccessful investments, and whether the charity should seek restitution for the losses.

Kingsway, which had an income of £9.4m in 2012/13, is made up of a network of church congregations in London, the west midlands and the home counties.

The regulator has been investigating the charity since 2011 because of concerns about decisions in 2009 and 2010 by its board to allow the former footballer and trustee Richard Rufus to invest £5m of charity assets in financial markets through speculative foreign exchange trades, without independent professional advice.

The investments failed, and Rufus resigned in May 2011. In June 2012, the charity was told by the commission to obtain its permission before making any more investments. The charity was due to be paid £6.9m under an individual voluntary agreement with Rufus, before he became bankrupt in October 2013. The charity said it had received £1.7m back.

The existing trustees, none of whom were involved in the investments in question, according to the charity, retain their day-to-day responsibilities. The majority of trustees were appointed after the problems first came to light, the commission said.

The regulator said the charity’s trustees had been cooperating throughout the inquiry, and a statement from the KICC trustees said they would continue to do so.

The KICC trustees said: "In spite of the difficulties caused by these investment decisions, and while we continue to pursue the recovery of the outstanding amount, the charity has been able to make progress. We have purchased a new headquarters, debt-free, and we have continued to deliver our programmes for the public benefit.

"The trustees will continue to conduct the normal day-to-day activities of the charity while working alongside the interim manager in the specific matter of the recovery of this investment."

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