A High Court has forced has a London church to shut down after it failed to fully show how it spent £1.87 million.
The Insolvency Service announced on Friday that SPAC Nation, legally known as Salvation Proclaimer Ministries Limited, was wound up in the High Court on 9th June 2022 before Judge Burton.
The church was registered as a charity in 2012 with the aim of helping vulnerable youth and offenders.
It got positive media attention for its efforts in helping young people to stay out of crime including plaudits from within the government. However in 2019, SPAC Nation was accused multiple times of financially exploiting its members, most of them young adults.
In November 2019, the Metropolitan police reviewed allegations after an investigation by the Huffington Post claimed some pastors at SPAC Nation had been targeting vulnerable people and asking them to take out loans of up to £5,000 which were then invested in crypto-currency.
The report suggested those taking out loans were left in debt while the pastors were seen wearing expensive clothing and jewellery.
SPAC Nation had persistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to the report.
At the time it said in a statement: "Anyone reading between the lines of most of these publications against SPAC Nation will see a clear attempt to discredit us in order to get a political party using us as a leverage to score cheap political points”.
It added: "We will not condone anyone, including any leader, doing wrong things in our midst. Anyone known to be doing such will be held accountable as we have appropriate procedures for handling complaints and disciplinary matters."
In February 2020, police said they chose not to open a criminal investigation into the church.
The UK Insolvency Service said it received complaints about SPAC Nation before instigating its own confidential enquiries into the church's activities.
It said in a statement: “Investigators interviewed one of the company’s directors, Adedapo Olugbenga Adegboyega, who was also known as Dapo Adegboyega or Pastor Dapo. During interviews, Mr Adegboyega said that the church group had over 2,000 members and 200 ordained ministers and pastors but failed to provide any supporting information.
“Further enquiries found that SPAC Nation either failed to comply or only partially complied with statutory requirements, including providing data to support claimed donations, and accounting records in support of £1.87 million of expenditure.
The company’s financial statements in the two years to 31 December 2019 set out £610,000 of rent expenditure. However, the company did not have a single base of its own and would hire venues across London to hold services, at significant expense.”
In June 2020, Pastor Tobi Adegboyega, well known as Pastor Tobi or PT, stepped down from his senior role in the church and handed it over to two other pastors who will be the "face of the church" in London. In a video message he said he stepped down because he felt called by God to help churches in different nations to reach young people. He said his new role is the global pastor of SPAC Nation. A month later the church rebranded as Nxtion Family.
The High Court ruled that Salvation Proclaimer Ministries Limited should be wound-up after concluding that it functioned with “a lack of transparency, filed suspicious or incorrect accounts, and was insolvent at the time of the hearing.”
The Insolvency Service also said SPAC Nation gave inconsistent information to the them and the Charity Commission, and failed to give adequate accounting records
The Charity Commission is still doing a statutory inquiry into SPAC Nation which is focusing on the church’s finances, governance and safeguarding.
Edna Okhiria, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “While SPAC Nation claimed it had noble intentions to support vulnerable and young people, our enquiries uncovered a different side of the charity. There were clear concerns around how the church group managed its affairs and SPAC Nation failed to properly account for income received from donations and other expenditure.
The court recognised the severity of SPAC Nation’s actions and this sends a strong message that proper records and accounts must be maintained, even if you’re a charity.”
Although organisations can be forced to be wound-up and be removed from the Companies House register, they can register under a different name in order to continue to operate.
In an Instagram Live video on Friday, Pastor Tobi said he was unphased the situation and insisted the church will continue its good works. He said that it was the limited company associated with the church that was wound up and it’s a company that he doesn’t want to use anymore.
Premier has contacted SPAC Nation for a comment.