The Charity Commission has found no evidence of wrongdoing at a church charity after looking into allegations that included the possible misappropriation of £16m of the charity’s funds.
World Mission Agency – Winners Chapel International is a Christian charity based in London with churches throughout the UK. It holds weekly services, runs a Sunday school, delivers community events and provides grants. It had an income of £8.3m and an expenditure of £5.4m in 2014.
The Charity Commission opened a case into the charity in 2013 after it was alerted by an investigative journalist to a number of allegations. One of these was that it had transferred large sums of the charity’s funds to a sister organisation in Nigeria. It was also alleged that church members were encouraged to recruit vulnerable people to the church so they would contribute to the charity financially, and that conflicts of interest led to some people benefiting personally from the charity.
There were also concerns about the conduct of the charity’s founder, the Nigerian pastor David Oyedepo, who had been caught on camera slapping a woman who was accused of being a witch across the face in front of a congregation.
The commission said at the time that it was also aware of allegations that £16m had been misappropriated from the charity.
The regulator has this week published the outcome of its investigation, which concludes that the allegations could not be substantiated.
The commission’s report says it found no evidence that any money had been misappropriated and only minor discrepancies in the charity's accounts, which the commission said were explained and resolved by the trustees.
It says it found no evidence to suggest that beneficiaries of the charity were at risk and confirms that the charity has an appropriate safeguarding policy based on the model provided by the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service.
The report says the commission identified a potential conflict of interest arising from the employment of someone who was related to the founder, but it was satisfied with the trustees’ decision-making in respect of the employment.