One of Britain's biggest churches, which lists among its aims "the relief of poverty", paid its pastor hundreds of thousands of pounds and provided him with free accommodation and a car while it had millions in the bank.
The Charity Commission found evidence of "serious" financial misconduct at the Kingsway International Christian Centre, in Hackney, east London.
A report concluded that leaders of the independent church, who encourage worshippers to donate a tenth of their salaries, had mismanaged its £8.5 million income.
On one occasion, £120,000 was spent celebrating the birthday of the senior pastor, Matthew Ashimolowo, of which £80,000 was used to buy a Mercedes. He bought a timeshare apartment in Florida for £13,000.
The church, which was founded by Mr Ashimolowo 19 years ago, attracts up to 10,000 mainly Afro-Caribbean worshippers a week to services in a converted warehouse near Hackney Marshes. The centre claims to be the fastest-growing church in Europe, with a total membership of 12,000.
Worshippers are encouraged to pray for wealth, and the charismatic Mr Ashimolowo, a Nigerian-born convert from Islam, often preaches a "prosperity gospel". Among his recorded sermons are "Sweatless wealth" and "101 answers to money problems".
The King's Ministry Trust, as it was then called, came under scrutiny from the charity watchdog in 2002 after a visit to its offices triggered concerns about its management and the benefits received by its trustees, including Mr Ashimolowo and his wife Yemesi.
The commission report said that the pastor and the trustees had been made aware that they were not entitled to receive benefits or remuneration from the church's income.
But Mr Ashimolowo and his wife received £384,601 between October 1992 and September 2000, £338,334 of which was paid into one of his private companies, for "pastoral services".
The report said that Mr Ashimolowo, his wife and two children were given free housing by the church, in addition to payments totalling £141,415 that came from the congregation.
The centre was taken over by the receivers in 2002, and new trustees and managers appointed.
The receivers withdrew in April when the commission was satisfied the church was being run in line with its guidelines. Mr Ashimolowo has been ordered to repay £200,000 into the charity.
The church said last night that it remained committed to its "vision of growth and expansion".