The former Charlton Athletic footballer Richard Rufus has been forbidden from running any company for 15 years after mismanaging a £5m investment belonging to Kingsway International, a Christian charity for which he was a trustee.
Rufus was issued with a bankruptcy restriction at an Insolvency Service civil hearing on 5 November for his financial misconduct between May 2007 and February 2011, when he took a total of £16.2m from investors, including £5m from the charity, and claimed to have invested it all.
According to a statement from the Insolvency Service, Rufus in reality made losses of £5m through currency exchange trading. The IS said he used £7.3m of the investors’ money to pay people who had invested with him at an earlier date, claiming it was a return on their investment, while he used another £3.4m for himself, or "for purposes that are unknown or not in the ordinary course of his business".
Rufus was declared bankrupt in October 2013.
Third Sector understands he is likely to face criminal charges.
In making his judgment, Registrar Jones said Rufus "exploited trust and friendship and exploited the churches that he attended", "used funds in a Ponzi manner and to fund his own lifestyle" and his "conduct was fraudulent and involved a fraudulent breach of trust".
The Charity Commission began investigating the charity in 2011 over its decision to allow Rufus to invest its assets without independent professional advice. Rufus stepped down as a trustee the same year.
In 2014, the commission made Helen Harvie, a consultant at the solicitors Barlow Robbins, interim manager of the charity to assess whether trustees were liable for the losses. The charity an income of £8m and spent £7.4m in the year to 31 March 2014.
Harvie handed the charity back to the trustees earlier this year.
The bankruptcy restriction means Rufus cannot promote, manage or be a director of a limited company until the end of 4 November 2030.
He must also disclose the restrictions when seeking to get credit of £500 or more, and cannot act as an insolvency practitioner, or as the receiver or manager of the property of a company.
Paul Titherington, official receiver at the Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit, said: "The Insolvency Service will look closely at any evidence of misconduct and take appropriate action where others have suffered as a result of a bankrupt’s actions, as has happened in Mr Rufus’s case."
The case was brought by one of Rufus’s creditors when he failed to pay back money he had promised to under an individual voluntary arrangement that was in place after a meeting of his creditors, held on 2 November 2011.
The Charity Commission said it was unable to comment because enquiries were continuing.