December 19, 2008
Ponzi Scandal of the Day?
Kyiv megachurch leader Sunday Adelaja faces allegations he was involved in scamming congregants.
Sunday Adelaja has been a controversial figure in Kyiv church life for some time. The senior pastor of Embassy of God megachurch has drawn criticism for allegedly overreporting attendance, preaching a prosperity gospel, exaggerating his role in the Orange Revolution, and for his church's relatively flamboyant cultural engagement.
But this time, he faces allegations of criminal misbehavior. Charisma ran a long article about accusations that Adelaja was at the center of a scam that bilked investors - many of them congregants - of $100 million.
Pentecostal leaders allege Adelaja encouraged church members to invest in King's Capital,
But last month, several church members went to authorities saying they were unable to recover the money they invested, which left many of them bankrupt. Police later arrested one of King's Capital leaders, Aleksandr Bandurchenko, on suspicion of fraud.
So far, it's unclear whether King's Capital was a legitimate venture that failed, as Adelaja claims, or a pyramid scheme.
The press release on Embassy of God's website sends some mixed messages, quoting Nehemiah 6:3 ("I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down"), John 8:7 ("If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her"), and Micah 7:8 (Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise). But Adelaja denies he had anything "to do with the King's Capital management, administration, and moreover finances."