A new lawsuit has been filed in Australia against Hillsong Church. A suspended employee Natalie Moses alleges the Australia-based megachurch misappropriated donations and gave "large cash gifts" to founding pastor and former Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston, his family and other church leaders.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission is reportedly investigating the church since March to verify if the organization complies with Australian regulations governing the operation of charities.
The 25-page statement of claim filed by Ms Moses's lawyers includes accusations Hillsong illegally hid its international transfers by making payments through its US-based entities. Moses, who worked within the church's financial department, claimed the Australian leadership team suspended her employment after she refused a directive to deceive regulators about its overseas activities.
Along with claims that church leaders made "significant" gifts to church directors and their family and friends, Moses said they used church credit cards to pay for international travel and designer products.
Peter Ridley, the church's chief financial officer, allegedly told key financial department members during a March 29 meeting that God would protect Hillsong during the investigation because "God protects the righteous and Hillsong is the righteous."
The church's lawyers told the ABC it will defend the matter.
"We are further instructed that Hillsong is continuing to work with the enquiries made by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission," they said.
"As the matter is now before the Federal Court of Australia, it is inappropriate to make any further comment."