Popular Nigerian pastor in UK involved in investigation over alleged investment fraud

A popular Nigerian pastor from one of the top evangelical churches in the United Kingdom is currently involved in a police investigation over an alleged investment fraud to which a former Premier League football player lost roughly $4.9 million (3.9 million British pounds).

(REUTERS / Jason Lee / Illustration)Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, British pound and Chinese 100-yuan banknotes are seen in a picture illustration shot January 21, 2016.

The trustees of Kingsway International Christian Centre, which is led by prosperity preacher Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, gave former Charlton Athletic player Richard Rufus $6.2 million (5 million British pounds) for a certain investment in 2009 and 2010. The latter promised annual returns of 55 percent even though the interest rates during those times were below one percent, The Guardian details.


In 2015, a civil court judge found Rufus guilty of running a Ponzi-style scheme from 2007 to 2011, losing or spending $9.97 million (8 million British pounds) from investors. After the Charity Commission released a report about the "mismanagement" at KICC, the City of London police launched an investigation into the case, but no one has been arrested so far.

According to the Charity Commission, KICC trustees "did not exercise sufficient care" when they endorsed the church money to Rufus for the said investment. They also reportedly failed to verify the former football player's investment qualifications.

In 2005, the Charity Commission also investigated KICC, which used to be known as King's Ministries Trust, and ordered Ashimowolo to repay approximately $249,000 (200,000 British pounds). It was discovered  that the Nigerian pastor used church assets to purchase a roughly $16,202 (13,000 British pounds) Florida timeshare and other expenses amounting to $150,000 (120,000 British pounds) which included his birthday parties and a car.

Last month, the leader of Omega Fire Ministries fired one of its pastors, Joseph Aiyedun, who was found to have used the organization's name and bank account for a money-doubling investment scheme. In a statement, the church confirmed the incident and said a "thorough investigation" was conducted before the decision was made, Premium Times reports.

The church also called the ponzi scheme a "satanic adventure." However, the church clarified that Pastor Aiyedun was fired not because of his involvement in the Ponzi scheme but because of his act of using the ministry's name for it.

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