Samoan Unbiased Seventh Day Adventist Church taken off Charities Register after probe

Samoan Seventh Day Adventist Church headquarters in Mangere, South Auckland.

A church in Auckland has been struck off the Charities Register after its workers stole hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in church funds, and poured hundreds of thousands extra into doubtful investments.

Samoan Seventh Day Adventist Church headquarters in Mangere, South Auckland.

Samoan Unbiased Seventh Day Adventist Church headquarters in Māngere, South Auckland.
Photograph: Google Maps

It follows a two-year probe into the Samoan Unbiased Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC) which operates 10 church buildings within the Auckland area.

An investigation report by Charities Providers printed in the present day, reveals an online of economic mismanagement and corruption that noticed huge sums of cash sourced from the church’s membership funnelled into the pockets of church officers, a lot of whom had been household relations.

The church, whose companies are held in Gagana Sāmoa, preyed virtually solely on Auckland’s sizeable Samoan inhabitants.

SISDAC was first referred to the Critical Fraud Workplace (SFO) by Charities Providers following a 2013 investigation into the church.

The SFO probe led to the 2017 sentencing of former treasurer Elizabeth Papu to 2 years and 9 months in jail for stealing greater than $1.6 million from the church, and utilizing the funds at a on line casino. That yr, Charities Providers opened a recent investigation to find out whether or not the church knew about Papu’s offending.

The investigation report discovered:

  • Elizabeth Papu misappropriated an extra $766,895 that was not uncovered by the SFO probe. (Her father, Pastor Willie Papu, contends that this revenue got here from official sources).
  • One other former treasurer, Joseph Stowers, took $498,997 in church funds as undeclared revenue in 2017.
  • Pastor Willie Papu Junior banked greater than $316,000 from the church and its World Committee checking account. (He claims they supported the church or had been private revenue that he paid tax on).
  • Pastor Willie Papu engaged in “critical wrongdoing” by taking $84,031 in church funds for him and his household, and influencing SISDAC to pay an extra $63,309 of his bills. (He submits that he by no means took the cash for his private profit).

Pastor Willie Papu, who stays as an government director of SISDAC’s World Committee, is called as a key affect on the church’s offending.

The report discovered he spearheaded massive investments together with practically $1m into the cryptocurrency OneCoin, and $1.7m into WFE Capital; the Monetary Markets Authority warns that each could also be scams.

Sina Hunt, a New Zealand girl who was central to establishing OneCoin’s presence within the nation, took greater than $200,000 in SISDAC’s funds for her private profit, in addition to arranging investments into “Well being Espresso” and “Organo Gold”, the report discovered.

“The entity [SISDAC] misplaced all the funds it invested in every scheme,” it mentioned.

A 2019 investigation by RNZ discovered Hunt had focused a number of weak Samoan households by SISDAC, and had satisfied them to speculate cash they may not spare into OneCoin, which has been labelled a ponzi scheme by authorities. “We do not consider something anymore,” one girl advised RNZ on the time.

In some methods, church members are nonetheless paying for the failings of their management.

The report discovered Pastor Papu had paid SISDAC $355,097 in reparations for the funds misplaced on the WFE Capital funding.

“Most of this cash has been gifted to Pastor Willie Papu by members of SISDAC’s abroad church buildings.”

This membership additionally donated about $500,000 on to the church to assist recuperate from the WFE Capital and OneCoin investments.

SISDAC was faraway from the Charities Register on 5 February, and can’t apply to be re-registered for an additional six months.

Pastor Papu and former treasurer Joseph Stowers had been additionally disqualified from being officers of charities for 4 years.

Within the report, the Charities Registration Board mentioned it nonetheless had considerations about Pastor Papu’s affect over SISDAC’s funding selections.

In its submissions, the church denied this. Pastor Papu put it in a different way: “I do know that Charities Providers would like to kill my affect. However affect will not be one thing you possibly can kill. It’s a legacy, constructed upon a lifetime of service and compassion.”

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