Promises over Pulelaʻā church ‘make-believe,’ FWC conference tells members

Pulelaʻā Church was sold by Westpac Bank to the Sant Nirankari Mission (SNM) following the collapse of a disastrous venture masterminded by Rev Sione Pinomi, Rev Matafonua Fotofili and Rev Viliami Tuʻakoi leaving the church owing Westpac and a local loan company Aus$21 million. Photo/KanivaPacific News

The Free Wesleyan Church in Tonga has told members of the Pulela’ā community in New South Wales to give up any idea of getting their multi-million dollar Sydney properties back.

The FWC has described claims that the properties could be recovered as ‘untrue,’ ‘thoughtless’ and ‘make-believe.’

The properties were seized by Westpac and resold after the community was engulfed in a financial scandal.

Three leading figures at the ʻchurch who were at the centre of the controversy have been suspended. They were Rev Sione Mataele Pinomi, Rev Matafonua Fotofili and Rev Viliami Tuʻakoi.

The announcement by the FWC at its conference this week has ended years of controversy and dispute, during which church members were dragged into religious conflicts and financial ruin.

The FWC said it would take legal action against the agents used by church ministers at Pulela’ā to fabricate documents used to mislead FWC headquarter in Tonga.

The church said it would also lodge complaints with the Australian Securities Investment Commission and the New South Wales Law Society about the situation.

According to minute number 92 of the Free Wesleyan Church conference for July 13, the property that formerly belonged to the Pulela’ā Church at 166 Glendening Road in NSW cannot be reclaimed.

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The minutes said the current owners had confirmed they did not want to resell it.

The document said Westpac had liquidated the property and met all legal requirements before it was sold. Claims that the Pulela’ā church was working to sue the bank to recover the property were impossible.

The document said claims by Pulela’ā ministers and their legal team that they were taking legal action to recover the church’s properties were “thoughtless” and “make believe.”

The FWC said the Pulela’ā ministers had promised miraculous financial salvation and presented fake investors to church members and claimed they were millionaires who would pay for their loans. All these claims had proved to be  “untrue” and “unreliable”.

The minutes said the organisation which owned the Pulela’ā church and property had confirmed there had never been any contact whatsoever with authorities at Pulela’ā about them buying back the property.

Celebrations had been held at the Pulela’ā  to announce that millions of dollars would be donated to the church. The latest was a promise of a $12 million donation to be paid to the church in April 2015. All these claims were fictitious, the minutes said.

The record of the FWC meeting said even if these claims proved to be true some time in the future there was no way such funding  could be accepted because it would go against the church’s religious principles.

The document said the conference would like to stop its church members from having any further hope that Pulela’ā or the five properties that had been used as securities would ever be recovered.

The conference also wanted church members to give up any hope that a financial investor would donate millions to the Pulela’ā church.

The document said the church appealed to its followers to use their remaining energy to bring back church members who had broken away because of the scandal.

It said the church should review its religious positions and to design a new pathway for the Pulela’ā church to follow.

It said the church should put God as priority and avoid living to worldly concerns.

The conference passed the following resolutions:

  1. To upgrade its moral care and act as a shepherd to the Pulela’ā church community and those who had broken away from the church.
  2. To work out how the church could assist those at Pulela’ā who had been affected emotionally and psychologically as well as the church ministers because of what they had experienced.
  3. To lodge complaints with Australian Security Investment Commission (ASIC) regarding the problem at Pulela’ā. Also to complain to the NSW Law Society about the two lawyers used by the church ministers at Pulela’ā. Another complaint would be lodged against the auditors in NSW who were used by Pulela’ā authorities.
  4. To review the memorandum of understanding between the FWC conference and the Tongan congregation in Australia and check the deed used for the registration of the church in Australia.
  5. That the church pay for all legal costs of the work involved in dealing with the situation at Pulela’ā.

The main points

  • The Free Wesleyan Church in Tonga has told members of the Pulelala’a community in New South Wales to give up any idea of getting their multi-million dollar Sydney properties back.
  • The FWC has described claims that the properties could be recovered as ‘untrue,’ ‘unkind’ and ‘make believe.’
  • The properties were seized by Westpac and resold after the community was engulfed in a financial scandal.
  • Three leading figures at the Pulela’ā’ church who were at the centre of the controversy were suspended by the conference last week. They were Rev Sione Pinomi, Rev Matafonua and Rev Viliami Tu’akoi.

For more information

Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga’s property gets new owner (Kaniva News)

Free Wesleyan Church in Sydney lose their premises (Tagata Pasifika)

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