The City of London police has opened a criminal investigation into the disastrous Ponzi investment made by Matthew Ashimolowo’s Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) with Richard Rufus, a member of the church, which led to the loss of £3.9 million by KICC.

According to The Guardian newspaper of London, the criminal investigation of KICC’s Ponzi investment follows a Charity Commission report into “mismanagement” at KICC, which invested £5 million with Rufus, a former Charlton Athletic player.

The newspaper also reported that the church’s Chief Operating Officer, James McGlashan alleged that the founder and senior pastor of the church, Ashimolowo knew about the disastrous investment.

McGlashan made the allegation in an interview with the Guardian.

“Detectives from City of London police’s fraud teams are investigating. There have been no arrests,” a London police spokesman confirmed to The Guardian.

Rufus was found by a civil court judge in 2015 to have operated a Ponzi-style scheme between 2007 and 2011, losing or spending £8 million from several investors.

The former professional footballer was a leading member of the KICC whose founder, Ashimolowo, preaches a “health and wealth” gospel to a congregation of thousands at his “Prayer Palace” in Kent.

The largely African and Caribbean churchgoers are urged to give regular tithes and the church collected £5.8 million from them in 2015, according to the latest accounts.

In 2009 and 2010, the trustees agreed to give Rufus £5 million to invest after he promised them returns of 55 per cent a year at a time when interest rates were less than 1 per cent; as well as millions in donations from churchgoers – which were boosted by gift aid tax relief.

Author: Yemi Olarinre