The United Kingdom Charity Commission has revealed why an interim manager was appointed for the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries International in August 2019.
The commission had in March 2018 opened a statutory inquiry into a number of concerns at the church, which included the repeated late filing of financial information and a failure in the administration resulting in opportunities for significant losses to the charity.
The commission in a statement seen by SaharaReporters said the interim manager assumes these duties at the exclusion of the charity’s trustees, stating that the trustees retain control over matters relating to religious activities.
The UK charity regulator claimed it had serious concerns over MFM Chair of Trustees, Dr Daniel Olukoya, and his personal handling of serious incidents.
It accused Olukoya of illegally meeting a former employee of the charity alleged to have stolen between £150,000 and £190,000 of the Charity’s funds in Nigeria, then entered into an agreement with the individual without any consultation with other trustees.
“The commission has been informed by the trustees that the previous auditor of the charity and a former employee of the charity made fraudulent gift aid claims and retained well in excess of one million pounds of the funds received from HMRC. To date, the trustees advise the commission that £104,266.66 has been received from the former employee.
“The commission has been informed by the trustees that another employee of the charity stole between £150,000 and £190,000 of the charity’s funds. Although the alleged theft was discovered by the trustees in August 2015, the matter was not reported to the commission until 13 February 2018. To date, the trustees advise the commission that between £6,000 and £8,000 has been recovered by the charity and it continues to have suffered a significant financial loss.
“The position of Dr Olukoya raises serious concerns about the extent in which the other trustees of the charity are able to act independently in the best interests of the charity. As referred to a point 13 above, the commission has evidence that Dr Olukoya arranged to meet a former employee of the charity in Nigeria. That former employee is alleged to have stolen £150,000 to £190,000 of charity’s fund. Dr Olukoya then entered into an agreement with this individual (Without any consultation with the former trustees) that the stolen money would be repaid in instalments.
“To date, only £6000 to £8000 has been repaid despite the misappropriation having taken place in 2015. Dr Olukoya’s approach in this case and the extent to which he fetters the discretion of the other trustees casts doubt on the trustees capacity to seek restitution of substantial funds lost to the charity. Dr Olukoya’s behaviour in dealing with serious incidents on his own and without informing the commission means that the commission does not have confidence in his dual role of General Overseer and Chair of trustees,” part of the document read.
The UK charity regulator also questioned the governance of MFM, explaining that three trustees were being paid in breach of the charity’s governing document, and causes conflict when employment matters are discussed.
“The trustees have not demonstrated a willingness to comply with their statutory duty under s132 (1) of the Charities Act 2011 to submit accurate accounts by the due date or with their duty to co-operate with the inquiry. For example, at a meeting with the charity trustees on 22 August 2018, the trustees assured the commission that the accounts for the financial year ending 21 December 2017 (due 31 October 2018) would be submitted by the due date. Despite being issued with a number of reminders and providing further assurances to the commission, the accounts for 2017 were not submitted by the due date.
“An extension, until 31 December 2018, was granted to the trustees. The trustees again provided assurances that the 31 December 2018 deadline would be met and again failed to meet the deadline. The charity accountant indicated in January 2019 that the account would be submitted by mid-February 2019. Yet again, ‘this deadline was missed. The accounts for 2017 were received on 31 March 2019, 151 days late.
“These facts show a persistent pattern of non-compliance with legal obligations and suggest that the commission cannot rely on the accuracy of the accounts submitted to date. These failures can be considered to amount to mismatch or misconduct.
“The charity’s governing document gives the General Overseer and Chair of the Trustees, Dr Daniel K Olukoya, power to remove and appoint trustees. In 2018, three trustees resigned and he has exercised this power by appointing five trustees. However, three of these new trustees are remunerated and are employees of the charity. The commission understands that Dr. Olukoya has used his power of appointment to appoint remunerated trustees in breach of the provisions of the governing document.”