SPAC Nation, a church being led by a Nigerian Tobi Adegboyega is being investigated in Britain over allegations that pastors were pressuring young members to sell their blood and also take bank loans to donate to the church and fund the lavish lifestyle of the pastors.
The Charity Commission said it has opened an inquiry into the church.
The commission, which describes the London church as a charity set up to ‘advance Christianity’ that works particularly with young people, has ordered it to bank all its money while the investigation takes place.
The commission announced the enquiry after HuffPost UK reported allegations that some members of the church had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as ‘bleeding for seed’.
The Mail On Sunday reported that SPAC Nation’s leaders had been accused of threatening parishioners who fail to raise enough money and one pastor had even urged her followers to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ in order to gather money for the church.
The newspaper revealed that one senior leader, Mariam Mola, 30, whose real name is Mariam Mbula, 30, had been jailed in the UK, Belgium and Spain, and was also wanted for leading a crime gang in Italy.
The senior leader, who had previously appeared on shows including This Morning and been praised for turning her life around after she was jailed for fraud at the age of 18, had at least 13 convictions for 34 offences; 27 for fraud and dishonesty.
It was also reported that Mbula had once preyed on a woman with a Down’s syndrome daughter in order to gain £15,000 from her funds.
Labour MP Steve Reed, the Shadow Children’s Minister, previously told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The allegations I have received about Spac Nation from vulnerable young people are truly disturbing.
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‘Victims are saying it is run like a cult. I want there to be a full investigation.’
Scotland Yard said it was reviewing the complaints against the church, which is run by the 39 year-old Adegboyega, who came to Britain in 2005.
The church, which denies the claims, has previously been praised by politicians for its work in tackling gang violence and protecting young people at risk of knife crime.
The commission said a case had been opened on SPAC Nation in April last year, and in November this year information received from the trustees ‘raised further concerns about the charity’s financial controls, policy and procedures’.
In a statement, it added: ‘Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash.
‘As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.
‘The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.’
SPAC Nation’s ‘Church of Bling’
The evangelical church claims to be a ‘faith based organisation that is committed in seeing the lives of young people being transformed’
The church, which featured in a BBC documentary last year, claims 55 per cent of its congregation are ex-gang members
A report with the commission’s findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.
In a statement from its board of trustees, SPAC Nation said the inquiry was ‘needful to lay to rest some unverified allegations,’ adding: ‘Inquiry is what we have always asked for.
‘If anything is found wrong we will adjust it, and if not we will keep going strong.
‘If any pastor or leader is caught pressuring people to donate, such leader will be expelled without delay, not to talk of pressuring to donate blood for money.
‘We encourage people to donate blood and all they can for the community but we also say not for money ever, that just won’t happen here.’
Read More in Mail on Sunday