Croydon evangelical church spent £95,000 of funds on overseas trips
An inquiry into an evangelical church in Croydon has found serious mismanagement of funds, including £95,000 spent on overseas trips.
Yesterday, the Charity Commission published findings of its inquiry into Rhema Church London, in Woodside Green, Croydon.
The Commission concluded that the charity’s trustees had failed to fulfill their duties to protect the charity and its assets.
It also found the charity failed to demonstrate any effective oversight of senior staff which led to serious misconduct and mismanagement.
Rhema Church London was established in 1999 to advance the Christian religion and provide education and relief of the aged, infirm and those in poverty.
During the inquiry, the regulator found evidence that the charity spent about £95,000 on trips overseas without any authorisation or clear charitable purpose. The trips, to locations including Italy, Greece and Austria, were led by former pastor, Martin Phelps.
The inquiry also uncovered that day-to-day living expenses such as food, domestic purchases, medical bills, vets’ bills, and gym memberships, were claimed and paid out by the charity in the absence of any expense policy.
The Commission determined the charity’s assets to be at risk and froze the charity’s bank accounts in November 2015.
The inquiry also found that cheques totalling £300,000 had been paid to the charity’s former pastor between 2014 and 2015.
It found £225,000 of the £300,000 had been transferred out of the charity’s account and placed into a personal account to reduce monthly mortgage interest payments before being transferred back to the charity.
This charities failure to correctly categorise its spending and prove it was for charitable purposes made them liable to pay £543,285.82 in additional taxes.
Amy Spiller, head of hnvestigations at the Commission, said: “The Interim Managers worked at length to settle the charity’s accounts and I am pleased they were able to recover over £136,000 which could be put to good use at charities with similar purposes.”
Rhema Church London was removed from the register of charities on the June 7, 2022.
Rhema Church London has been approached for comment.
Pictured top: Rhema Church London in Woodside Green, Croydon (Picture: Google Street View)
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