Charity Commission Inquiry Uncovers Misuse of Funds at London Church

The Charity Commission (CC), the governing body that regulates charities in England and Wales, recently published findings of its inquiry into Rhema Church London, a charity which had a church in Croydon.

The Commission found evidence that the church, founded in 1999, had spent approximately £95,000 on overseas trips led by former pastor, Martin Phelps, without any authorisation or clear charitable purpose.

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 clear financial controls.

The Commission concluded that the charity’s trustees had failed to fulfil their duties to protect the charity and its assets, or demonstrate any effective oversight of senior staff leading to serious misconduct and mismanagement.

The Commission froze the charity’s bank accounts in November 2015 and appointed Interim Managers (IMs) to address issues uncovered by the inquiry.

The charity’s former pastor was disqualified from being a trustee and/or holding any office or employment with senior management functions at any charity for 10 years.

Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations at the Commission, said:

From our investigation it was clear that trustees at Rhema Church London had failed to meet this obligation, leading to significant misuse of funds by a former senior employee.

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 7th June 2022.

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