France: Pastor convicted for swindling over 2 million euros

For 3 years he got thousands of donations “to satisfy its greed”, said the prosecutor. The church does not belong to the National Council of Evangelical Christians in France.

Evangelical Focus/January 24, 2024

Charles Bameko, a 52-year-old Congolese pastor of the la Bonne semence transmise (Good seed transmitted) church in the French city of Créteil, was given a suspended three-year prison sentence for swindling over two million euros.

Between 2019 and 2022, he collected thousands of donations from members of his congregation and online, as part of his religious activities. The money was divided among several personal, business and association accounts, in the name of the church.

The church does not belong to the the National Council of Evangelical Christians in France (CNEF).

Now, Bameko has been charged with misuse of corporate assets, breach of trust and laundering of tax fraud. His partner, accused of handling stolen goods, was given a one and a half year suspended prison sentence.

Allegedly misuse of donations

Bameko firmly denied the accusations, stating that the donations for the church did come back to the organisation, and the other donations, mostly collected during the broadcasting of his sermons on YouTube, were given to him to “lead an evangelical crusade in Europe and Africa”.

The pastor added that the aim of his church was also to “create orphanages, schools and hospitals in Africa”, and assured the judge that they had already built an orphanage in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He pleaded the “sin of ignorance” and referred to his clean criminal record as proof of his “very good integration” in France.

One of the defence lawyers denounced the absence of civil parties or churchgoers testifying on the stand that they had been taken advantage of; while the other pleaded a management problem and ignorance of French law to explain the failure to declare the money received to the tax authorities.

The prosecutor pointed out that the pastor “had deliberately confused” the various organisations receiving donations.

“The money was absolutely not used to do God's work, but to satisfy the couple's lifestyle and greed”, added the prosecutor, mentioning the over 140 pairs of shoes and luxury goods found in the family home and the purchase of property.

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