Through a web of financial mismanagement and corruption, officials of the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist church in New Zealand stole millions from its congregation.
A lot of the stolen money was pocketed by the officials themselves. The rest was ploughed into OneCoin and other fraudulent investment schemes.
Investigations into SISDAC began in 2013. It wouldn’t be till 2017 however that former treasurer Elizabeth Papu would be sentenced to prison for stealing $1.6 million.
Papu blew the money she stole from the church at a casino.
Papu’s conduct prompted Charities Services to investigate ‘whether the church knew about Papu’s offending.’
What they found was damning.
Elizabeth Papu misappropriated a further $766,895 that was not uncovered by the SFO probe. (Her father, Pastor Willie Papu, contends that this income came from legitimate sources).
Another former treasurer, Joseph Stowers, took $498,997 in church funds as undeclared income in 2017.
Pastor Willie Papu Junior banked more than $316,000 from the church and its World Committee bank account. (He claims they supported the church or were personal income that he paid tax on).
Pastor Willie Papu engaged in “serious wrongdoing” by taking $84,031 in church funds for him and his family, and influencing SISDAC to pay a further $63,309 of his expenses. (He submits that he never took the money for his personal benefit).
In addition to the money he personally stole, Willie Papu (right) is alleged to have
spearheaded large investments including nearly $1m into the cryptocurrency OneCoin, and $1.7m into WFE Capital.
OneCoin we’re of course familiar with. WFE Capital appears to be a long since collapsed Ponzi scheme.
Papu was assisted by Sina Hunt, a New Zealand resident who received $200,000 from SISDAC.
Hunt, together with Papu, funneled SISDAC’s congregation into OneCoin and Organo Gold.
In 2019 Radio New Zealand reported SISDAC had laundered millions into OneCoin, as part of efforts to circumvent a national ban on OneCoin investment in Samoa.
Of the money SISDAC took from its congregation and invested into OneCoin, “all of the funds” have been reported lost.
An additional $500,000 has been raised from SISDAC’s congregation, who are mostly from Samoa, to cover the church’s losses.
Since WFE collapsed, Willie Papu has ‘paid SISDAC $355,097 in reparations for the funds lost’.
Charities Service’s investigation led to SISDAC being removed from New Zealand’s Charities Register. The de-registration is effective for a minimum of six months.
In the report, the Charities Registration Board said it still had concerns about Pastor Papu’s influence over SISDAC’s investment decisions.
Willie Papu, identified as a key influence on the church’s offending, remains Executive Director of SISDAC’s World Committee.
When he’s not fleecing his congregation, Papu spends his time preaching hate against other Christian denominations and New Zealand’s PM.
For his part, Papu appears to have no remorse for financial damage inflicted upon SISDAC’s congregation.
I know that Charities Services would love to kill my influence. But influence is not something you can kill.
It is a legacy, built upon a lifetime of service and compassion.
Seeing as Willie Papu’s legacy is herding his congregation into a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme for his own financial benefit, we’re not sure how that fits into “service and compassion”.
Why New Zealand authorities haven’t pressed criminal charges against Papu and other known OneCoin leaders is unclear.
Following a report by New Zealand police detailing OneCoin related fraud, the Commerce Commission announced it wouldn’t be investigating OneCoin in early 2020.