Pentecostal church pays back almost £34k of ‘ill-gotten gains’ to Barking and Dagenham Council

The church, which is now closed, operated out of Ajax House in Hertford Road, Barking. Pic: Google

The church, which is now closed, operated out of Ajax House in Hertford Road, Barking. Pic: Google - Credit: Archant

A Pentecostal church has coughed up almost £34,000 after being ordered to pay back every penny earned from its illegal operation.

Barking and Dagenham Council has so far received £33,539 after the Mountain of Fire and Miracles International (MFMI) and the landlord of the property in Hertford Road where it was based were found guilty of operating without planning permission.

Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: "This is a culmination of six year's work and a lot of effort on the part of our officers.

"The message from us is loud and clear - if you choose not to play by the rules, we will use all the powers available to us to find you, investigate you and where we find against you - we will prosecute and take back the money.

"Taking back income and assets from criminals is a very powerful tool to stop illegal activity."

MFMI received a £91,264 confiscation order based on the income it received after using the venue as a place of worship.

It was also fined £4,000 with costs of £3,507 and a £170 victim surcharge. The council has received £33,539 from the combined sum.

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The Enfield based church, founded by Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, is currently subject to intervention from the Charities Commission for financial irregularities.

Landlord, Milap Singh Padda of Barleycorn Way, Hornchurch, received a confiscation order of £104,986.

This was the rent he received from the church and others he allowed to use the building for more than three years, breaking a planning enforcement notice.

The 74-year-old was also fined £4,000 plus costs of £3,507 and a £170 victim surcharge. His order has yet to be paid but when it is the council will also receive a share.

In total, Padda and MFMI were sentenced to confiscation orders and ordered to pay £196,250 at the hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court in February.

The council gets 37.5 per cent of the income from criminal assets and uses this for initiatives to reduce crime and recover ill-gotten gains.

The rest of the money is kept by the Home Office and the court system to pay for their work.

The local authority plans to use some of the church money on crime cutting initiatives.