OneCoin church pastors slammed for using pulpit

Some church leaders who invested and joined the OneCoin scheme have been criticised for using the pulpit to encourage other congregation members to join them.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, the former Member of Parliament, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, said church leaders should stick to preaching about the word of God and not gamble in the scheme. 

“There are a lot of pastors involved and I feel for them,” said Afualo. 

“I don’t mind if they invest their money in the scheme but to use the pulpit to encourage other church followers to join is not right. 

“It is wrong and they should not encourage other church people to invest in the scheme, it is a scam.

“Its quite sad and I feel sad for the pastors that are involved in the scheme. They are promoting it because they want some fast cash but it is not right.”

The former M.P. has appealed to the authorities to prosecute church leaders who have invested in the OneCoin scheme. 

He pointed out the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) ministers, who did not pay their tax, have been prosecuted and the same should be done to those involved in the OneCoin scheme. 

“It is no different from the church ministers that did not pay their tax and are being prosecuted,” he said. 

“The truth is they should be prosecuted and it is not right that these church leaders involved in the scheme are being let go and you have the C.C.C.S. church ministers being prosecuted.

“It is two different issues but the moral of it – those involved in the scam have breached the law and should therefore be prosecuted as well – there needs to be justice for all, not just some.” 

Speaking as an economist, Afualo said the Central Bank of Samoa has a responsibility and the right to protect the investment of people investing these scams. 

He said while people claim it is their own freewill on where they invest their money, but the currency they are using for their investment is the legal tender of Samoa.

“That is why the Central bank has setup legislation to govern the use of currency and ensure your investment is secure,” he said. 

“Those that are defending this scheme must understand that the scheme is not a legal tender. 

“The currency they are using is the Samoan currency and people should be aware of that. 

Yes it is there money but the currency is the legal tender of Samoa and there are laws in place to govern illegal use of currency like money laundering and other illegal trades.

“At the end of the day people will come back to the government through the appropriate authority when they don’t get any returns.”

Afualo said the scheme is risky and the Central Bank is right to step in and issue warnings.  

“Central bank cannot just sit back and let people let this be because if they do not get any returns they will go back to the authorities. 

“Already we are seeing complaints from people about the scheme and it is getting out of control and I can tell you this they will not get anything in return…the scheme is a gamble.” 

Afualo added he hopes the Ministry of Police and the Attorney General’s office act on the request from Central Bank to look into the issue and take appropriate actions. 

According to the Bank, the “relevant authorities” in this matter include the Police and the Office of the Attorney General.

“C.B.S. has already disseminated this intelligence report to all the relevant authorities including our Ministry of Police for their investigation on the relevant law, should they entertain this within their prerogative,” the Bank said.

“The Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Police are the relevant government authorities that deal with prosecution. 

“However, the Central Bank is working closely to provide any information that is necessary by the Police or the Attorney General’s Office.”

The churches involved in OneCoin have been named as the Worship Center Church and the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (S.I.S.D.A.C.).

Both churches have strongly disputed the Bank’s claims about the scheme and criticised the decision by the Bank to name them, pointing out that there are other local churches involved as well as certain Members of Parliament.

In the statement, the Bank assured that their role is not to prohibit businesses or cryptocurrency investments, rather they exist to facilitate and ensure all proper processes have been met “and that our people are well protected from losing their hard earned money".

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