Math 6: 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon

1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

UC Ministries: Just because a man can stand in a pulpit does not mean he is the genuine article. A change life does not involve swindling or involving his family in crooked dealings. The terrible aspect in the following article is that as Christians we are often too trusting.  The growing failure off ministers across our pulpits has become an ever increasing sorry tale.  The growing lack of a genuine accountability has seen many become masters of their own pulpits, accountable to no one, and rejecting any and all accountability.  The results in this case has been devastating both for this family and the flock that had become an integrated part of his ministry.   Then we wonder why Christianity has become the butt of comedians

Isaac William appeared to be the perfect charitable preacher at St Nicholas Church in Tooting, but he was actually behind a £2.6m tax fraud

To his congregation, he was an inspirational Christian pastor who had dedicated his life to raising money for the poor, homeless and sick.

Isaac William, 61, his wife Venus, 54, and their three daughters appeared to be the very model of Christian charity, funding housing, hospitals and education in Pakistan.

But in reality, the preacher at St Nicholas Church in Tooting, South London was swindling taxpayers out of £2.6million in a tax fraud to pay for a million-pound property empire in Britain and abroad.

The ‘crooked’ businessman who ran a security guard company, made profits of over £6million exploiting illegal immigrants who were forced to work around the clock on a pittance and live in cramped caravans and huts sleeping on the floor.

To avoid paying VAT, income tax and national insurance, William hid the profits into a number of bank accounts including his charity account named ‘The Great Commission Evangelical Fellowship’.

But the money was then withdrawn in cash and laundered by his wife and daughters, Sylvia, 34,  who worked for Lloyds Bank, Maria Gunasekara, 33, a business manager for Barclays and their younger sister Sophie, 26, a law graduate.

The family used the cash to build an impressive property portfolio which included eight homes in London, Surrey, Hounslow and Walsall and two holiday homes in Pakistan.

The father of six also splashed out on luxury sports cars and frequent trips to Dubai and Pakistan.

But the authorities became suspicious when a van belonging to William was stopped by police who found a gang of illegal foreign workers.

An investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs revealed he had failed to declare £5million in profits and owed £1.1million in VAT, national insurance and tax between 1998 and 2008, which added up to £2.6million in lost interest to the taxpayer.

His wife and daughters – two of whom had been trained in money laundering as part of their work – laundered £1.3million of the profits, wiring the cash to accounts in Dubai and Pakistan.

Venus William, Isaac’s wife, (left) helped launder the cash to build a property portfolio including eight homes – two in Pakistan. Their youngest daughter, Sophie (right) was a law graduate

Maria Gunasekara (left) and Sylvia William (right) both worked for banks where they picked up the skills to launder money by wiring £1.3million to bank accounts in Dubai and Pakistan

Now William has been jailed for four years after admitting ten counts of cheating the public revenue at Kingston Crown Court.

Judge Susan Tapping said the ‘crooked’ businessman ran a ‘dishonest and exploitative business.’

She told him: ‘Your working practices were dubious and exploitative and you used people who had no right to be here.’

She added: ‘The worst part was to use his wife and daughters to launder money. They wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. It helped his family to begin to own their own homes.

‘He may well have used this money for charity but most of this was sent abroad.’

The court heard that the pastor born in Karachi, Pakistan came to Britain in 1989 on a six month visa to do a Christian studies course at Spurgeon’s College, London, but he overstayed his visa and was not given leave to remain here until 2000.

Paul Brogan QC, defending, said William had set up a scout movement in Karachi, but ‘it was charitable work at the expense of the British taxpayer.’

He said: ‘The business was ran with virtually no records being kept and he ignored his responsibilities, not only to keep records but to account for his profits and he accepts that over the years he declared little and failed to pay the taxes on his profits.

When the William family was put on trial there were protests in Pakistan where people claimed he was an innocent pastor

‘He also accepts that his family enjoyed considerable financial benefit.

‘Throughout this time he continued to support the scout movement and help people in the local community. He also set up medical centres in Karachi and a maternity hospital.

‘It was charitable work at the expense of the British taxpayer.’

But HMRC investigators were unable to find any evidence that the money in his charity account reached the Karachi Scout movement.

The Rev Noel Mclean, a pastor of the Yahweh Christian Fellowship in Tooting and chaplain for the Metropolitan Police, told the court he had witnessed William’s work in Pakistan.

He said: ‘I was taken to areas where he had helped in the building of homes and hospitals and schools. It seemed to be quite extensive.

‘People would not stop talking about him. He was held in high esteem. They spoke of how many lives had been transformed by his giving.’

In October his wife and daughters were found guilty of money laundering after a six week trial. Last Friday his wife, Venus was sentenced to 16 months in jail.

St Thomas Church in Tooting, South London, were Isaac William was a preacher and charity fundraiser

His daughter Maria, was given a 12 month suspended sentence. Sylvia, received a 10 month suspended sentence and Sophia got an eight month suspended term. They were also given 100 hours of unpaid work.

Simon De Kayne, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: ‘Isaac William failed to declare his company’s income or pay taxes of £1.1m from his business activities.

‘The amount he owes now stands at £2.6m including interest. His wife and daughters then continued the web of deceit by laundering over £1.3m through their personal bank accounts.

‘Their criminal activities ensured they were able to fund luxury lifestyles and further increase their wealth at the expense of the taxpayer.’

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke added: ‘This Government will not tolerate dishonest people stealing public money. This sentence shows that those who try to commit fraud need to think again – HMRC will find you and the courts will punish you.’

Andrew Biker, Senior Prosecution Lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service’s Central Fraud Group, said: ‘For over a decade, Isaac William defrauded the public purse with the knowledge and assistance of his wife and family.

‘Not only did he exploit the public purse, he also exploited his employees, many of whom were illegal foreign nationals.’

Is it possible that we have forgotten the man who once rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, suffered rejection, the indignity of a mock trial, the humiliation of a public crucifixion?  The one who had no where to sleep has now been surpassed by a gospel that demands wealth, popularity and fame. Have we come to that inspiring place where we think it’s odd if a minister does not have such aspirations?   Have we become so gullible to the fraudsters that see the pulpit not as a road of humility but as a   advancement to self interests?


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