Te Rātā Atawhai, Charities Registration Board’s statement on Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church

Published 11 February 2020

In its decision dated 17 December 2020, Te Rātā Atawhai, the Charities Registration Board (“the Board”), has removed the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (“the entity”) from the Charities Register. The Board considers that the entity meets the grounds for deregistration under the Charities Act (“the Act”), as the entity and its officers have engaged in serious wrongdoing. The Board also considers that it is in the public interest to remove the entity from the Charities Register.

The Board has also made orders that the entity must not re-apply for registration for six months from the date of deregistration, and that two of the entity’s officers are disqualified from being an officer of a registered charity for four years from the date of deregistration.

Grounds for removal

The Board has decided that the entity meets the grounds for removal from the Charities Register, as the entity and its officers have engaged in serious wrongdoing.

The Board considers that two of the entity’s officers engaged in serious wrongdoing involving an unlawful or corrupt use of the entity’s funds or resources, as the two officers stole significant funds from the entity.

The Board also considers that the entity and its officers have engaged in serious wrongdoing involving gross mismanagement of the entity, because:

  1. The entity and its officers repeatedly made poor investment decisions, which resulted in a significant loss of the entity’s funds.
  2. The entity and its officers did not keep accurate financial records, and did not have financial controls in place.
  3. The entity’s officers breached their duties, as they did not act in the entity’s best interests, or ensure the entity was governed well.

Finally, the Board considers that the entity and its officers have engaged in serious wrongdoing involving a serious risk to the public interest in the orderly and appropriate conduct of the affairs of the entity.

Public interest

The Board has decided that it is in the public interest that the entity be removed from the Charities Register.

The Board has taken into account the actions that the entity has taken to address the serious wrongdoing of the entity and its officers. On several occasions, however, the entity has failed to follow changes it claimed were already in place.  

The Board considers that the public have a right to expect that donations made to a charity will not be lost because of serious wrongdoing by a charity and its officers.

The Board also considers it would not be in the public interest if a charity which has engaged in serious wrongdoing of a significant, systemic and widespread nature remained registered as charity.

Role of the Board

The role of the Board includes maintaining the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register are compliant with the Act. The Board makes decisions based on the facts before it, applying the relevant statutory and case law, and maintaining consistency of its approach with previous decisions.

The Board can direct that a charity be removed from the Charities Register if the charity or any person connected to the charity has engaged in serious wrongdoing, and it is in the public interest to remove the charity.

If the Board has removed a charity from the Charities Register, it can also make orders that a charity cannot re-apply for registration for a specified period, or disqualifying an officer from being an officer of a charity for up to five years.

Gwen Keel

Charities Registration Board

Link to detailed discussion(external link)