Months after an investigative journalist volunteered to lie against the Living Faith Church Aka Winners Chapel International in London, the UK Charity Commission Board has concluded their investigation and has cleared the Winners Chapel London of any financial misappropriation.
Here are some findings from the investigation:
Our review of the charity’s financial information identified minor discrepancies. However, the trustees were able to explain and resolve these.
We found no evidence that £16 million or any other amount had been misappropriated.
We were satisfied the charity could demonstrate good financial controls, appropriate for a large and expanding charity. We provided the trustees with general financial advice and guidance on best practice with regards to categorising expenditure, gift aid and grant making in their accounts.
We confirmed the charity had an appropriate safeguarding policy in place which was based on the model provided by Churches Child Protection Advisory Service. The policy is extensive and covers all the recommendations in the commission’s guidance.
During our case we did not identify any evidence to suggest beneficiaries of the charity are at risk. The incident occurred in Nigeria and there were no incidents involving this charity.
The charity managed the reputational risk of its association with the incident in Nigeria by taking legal advice, discussing the matter at trustee meetings, responding to press queries and issuing statements as appropriate.
We identified a potential conflict of interest arising from the employment of an individual who was related to the founder. However, we were satisfied with the trustees’ decision making in respect of the employment. They demonstrated that the conflict of interest was managed and that they had appropriate policies which were applied.
Overall, its accounts were good and complied with the SORP for charity accounting; however our review of the accounts raised a number of issues to warrant further exploration including honorariums, transfers of funds, expenditure categories and gift aid. The trustees were able to provide satisfactory responses to the queries we raised on these issues.
The UK Charity Commission will want other charities to know that:
This charity had sound policies in place to help protect it against risk and had good records to show how the trustees had acted and what decisions it had made. This put the trustees in a good position to respond with confidence to serious allegations and to co-operate with our enquiries.
We expect this of all charities: charities working with vulnerable people must have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place; the trustees must ensure these procedures are being followed; trustees must put in place robust internal financial controls; charity trustees should regularly review and assess the risks faced by their charity in all areas of its work and plan for the management of those risks – our guidance on risk management outlines the basic principles and strategies that can be applied to help charities manage their risks”.