Hillsong Church has been accused of tax evasion and money laundering by an Australian MP, saying that their spending would “embarrass a Kardashian”.
Under parliamentary privilege, Andrew Wilkie has suggested the global megachurch has earned $80 million more than they have disclosed.
Speaking to the parliament in Canberra, he claimed to have seen leaked documents, which he believes Australian financial authorities - Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission – have already seen and failed to act upon.
The breadth of his allegations concern a whole spectrum of leaders within the Sydney-based megachurch.
He accuses former senior global pastor Brian Houston – who stepped down from his role over allegations of inappropriate conduct with two women – of using “private jets like Ubers,” saying he took five trips amounting to a total of almost £200,000 within a three-month period.
He accuses other members of the Houston family of spending $150,000 of church money on watches, luggage sets, designer clothes and skateboards, amongst other luxury items.
“Hillsong followers believe the money they put in the poor box goes to the poor, but these documents show how that money is actually used to do the kind of shopping that would embarrass a Kardashian,” Wilkie said.
Brian Houston was replaced by new global leader Philip Dooley. Despite only just officially taking over the role, he is also embroiled in the allegations.
Wilkie claims Dooley spent tens of thousands of dollars on business class flights for him and his daughter.
In reponse, Hillsong has told concerned followers that they are a “different church” than they were in the days of Brian Houston. In a statement to the Guardian Australia, they said the claims were “out of context” and are “in many respects wrong”.
They say they are “disappointed” Wilkie did not confront them personally before talking to Parliament.
Hillsong say they are unable to comment further due to legal restraints in regard to an ongoing trial involving one of the people involved in the allegations.
Premier Christian News has reached out to Hillsong for further comment.