The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager at an evangelical Christian charity that it has been investigating over large payments to connected parties and other financial concerns.
Yesterday, Rod Weston, a specialist business recovery partner at the accountancy firm Mazars, took over the management of Christ Embassy from the charity’s trustees as a protective measure.
Christ Embassy has ministries in Canada, Nigeria, South Africa and the US in addition to the UK. According to its charitable objects, it exists to promote the Christian religion and help people in need or suffering hardship.
In September last year, the commission announced it had opened a statutory inquiry into the charity after a member of the public raised concerns in October 2012.
The regulator said today in a statement that inspections of the charity’s books and records had not resolved concerns about its financial management.
"The charity’s trustees have been informed of the decision, and the interim manager will be communicating with the charity’s beneficiaries," the statement said.
As interim manager, Weston will take over management of the charity, including staff, assets, interests and relations with third parties. He will also take "any steps necessary to secure and take control of the assets of the charity", and work with the charity’s pastors to ensure religious activities are not affected, the commission said.
In February, it emerged that HM Revenue & Customs was withholding almost £2.8m of Gift Aid payments due to the charity over questions of whether its money was being spent on charitable purposes.
Despite this money going unpaid, the charity’s income has still risen significantly from just over £7m in 2008 to more than £16.7m in 2012.