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Criminal investigation follows Charity Commission findings

Member: Nifa

Former Charlton Athletic footballer Richard Rufus is being investigated by City of London Police after a Charity Commission report found “mismanagement” at Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC). Mr Rufus had already been branded a “fraudster” by a specialist civil court judge in 2015 after running a Ponzi-style scheme between 2007 and 2011 and losing or spending £8m from several investors. However, this new criminal investigation hinges on the loss of £3.9m invested by Mr Rufus himself into the evangelical church.

Mr Rufus was a leading member of the KICC, which collected £5.8m from the tithes of its congregation in 2015. In 2009 and 2010 the trustees gave Mr Rufus £5m to invest after he promised them returns of 55 per cent a year, even though normal interest rates were less than one per cent. However, the Charity Commission blasted the trustees in their report published last December, saying they had not exercised sufficient care when they gave him the church’s money.

According to the Commission’s report, they were alerted after the charity’s accounts for the year to 31 March 2010 referred to £3m of investments that were paid into Mr Rufus’ personal bank account.

The trustees who gave Mr Rufus the cash have now been replaced and the Charity Commission has told the new trustees that they have a “strong legal claim” against those who oversaw the investment decision. However, they have decided to settle out of court with confidential payments agreed.

The criminal case will now follow the course of all forensic investigations inasmuch as the money will be traced to its ultimate destination and Mr Rufus’s lifestyle and documentation will be scrutinised by forensic accountants to assess whether there was criminal benefit or intent.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 20 February 2017

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