4 Feb 2011

Canadian evangelical pastor convicted of sex assault of minor girl and stripped of charitable status by government regulators

CBC News - Canada January 25, 2011

Charity chief convicted of sexual assault

Operation Save Canada's Teenagers and Revival Time Ministries International charitable registration revoked

The head of two Toronto-area organizations that were stripped of their charitable status after submitting "falsified" documents to federal regulators was sentenced this month for sexual assault for inappropriately touching a teenager, CBC News has learned.

Daniel Mokwe was sentenced Jan. 13 to time served — two nights in jail — and given two years probation.

The victim, a minor at the time of the assault, told Det. Richard Petrie of the Toronto Police Service that she knew Mokwe was a pastor. As a result of the incident, she lost her faith in God and would never enter another church again, she said.

Status revoked

Mokwe's charities — Revival Time Ministries International and Operation Save Canada's Teenagers — were stripped of their charitable registration status after they showed no proof of having spent millions of dollars on charitable activities. Their charitable status was pulled on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15, respectively.

According to correspondence between the CRA and Mokwe, the CRA had "extremely serious concerns" about some of the documents Mokwe submitted to them for an audit. In particular, they were concerned about "falsified bank statements [meant] to substantiate revenues and expenditures," the CRA said in a statement.

The CRA, which administers the registration and revocation of the status of Canadian charities, further found Mokwe failed to prove he spent any of his charities' $3.9 million in expenditures in 2006 and 2007 on charitable activities.

CRA documents also show Mokwe or his charities:
  • Issued donation receipts worth more than the donations given.
  • Issued receipts for transactions that did not qualify as gifts.
  • Did not spend charitable expenditures to further the causes for which they were founded.

When reached by CBC News, Mokwe said he's busy fighting Canada Revenue's decision to revoke his organizations' charitable status.

"I've already done a motion to re-instate our charity," he said. "So that's what I'm doing right now, I'm dropping off a motion to the Ministry of Justice."

According to the documents obtained by CBC News, Mokwe was first informed of CRA concerns about Revival Time Ministries and Operation Save Canada's Teenagers on Sept. 19, 2008.

In more than two years, he or his charities were unable to provide any information to quell the CRA's concerns. The CRA issued its notice of intention to revoke the charities' status on Nov. 16, 2010.

Excuses, falsified bank statements

On Jan. 8, June 5 and July 8, 2009, the CRA requested a list of documents for an audit, including bank statements, cancelled cheques, deposit books and other supporting documents.

As of Nov. 16, when the CRA issued its notice of intention to revoke the charities' status, it had received none of them.

Instead, Mokwe's charities told the CRA the documents were stored in a rented warehouse and were sold when the charities failed to pay the rent, according to the CRA documents. Earlier, the charities had told the CRA the documents had been stored on a computer but were lost during a computer malfunction.

In their place, the charities submitted statements that the CRA later determined were fake, and from banks at which the charities did not have accounts.

In the case of Operation Save Canada's Teenagers, for example, the CRA found the charity had submitted a statement from Scotiabank that claimed total revenues of $234,486, total expenses of $189,418 and a closing balance of $65,116.67. The revenues minus expenses should have equalled $45,068 — leaving a discrepancy of $20,048.67.

Operation Save Canada's Teenagers also submitted Scotiabank statements showing transfers to the U.S. of about $130,000 per month between August and December, 2006.

In the end, the CRA confirmed the organization "did not have a Scotiabank account," according to a letter addressed to Mokwe and dated April 14, 2010.

Mokwe also runs a third charity: The African Community Development Project (ACODEP). That charity is not registered with the CRA, but it does accept donations. However, the website to make donations to ACODEP produced an error message.

Receipt crackdown

"It's sad that we have a system that is so easy, in a way, to take advantage of," said Mark Blumberg, a lawyer at Toronto law firm Blumberg Segal LLP, which does work for many Canadian non-profits and charities.

Blumberg said the CRA has been cracking down on fraudulent "receipting," the practice used by some charities to inflate their receipts so donors can claim bigger charitable gifts and get bigger tax write-offs.

"Ultimately, it potentially undermines the integrity of the whole receipting system we have in Canada, which is one of the most generous in the world. And another victim is the charitable sector."

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