A millionaire preacher being hunted in connection with the “miracle babies” child trafficking scandal today had his charity’s bank accounts frozen as a formal investigation was launched into his ministry.
Gilbert Deya, 52, who faces extradition to Kenya to assist a police inquiry, had dismissed allegations that he has been involved in the scandal, in which it is believed children have been stolen from a Nairobi maternity clinic and offered to infertile couples.
The Charity Commission confirmed a full inquiry had begun into the Gilbert Deya Ministries, which has churches in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.
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Simon Gillespie, the Charity Commission’s director of operations, said: “We have examined and considered all the material we have obtained, and feel that we have no choice but to move to an inquiry.
“We will now be working closely with all relevant agencies to get to the bottom of these allegations.”
A spokesman added: “We have frozen the charity’s bank accounts and instructed the trustees not to part with any funds from the charity without the commission’s permission.
“This follows allegations raised in the press about the involvement of the charity in international baby trafficking.”
He said the charity had failed to provide a satisfactory response to the commission’s initial inquiries.
Mr Deya’s wife has already appeared before a Nairobi court in connection with the theft of two children.
However, the self-proclaimed archbishop claims children miraculously born to his worshippers are the result of divine intervention.
He insists the conceptions followed deliverance blessings, in which he helps women cast out demons.
DNA tests have rubbished his theory and confirmed that children recovered by officers at two Kenyan addresses are not, as claimed, either his own offspring or those of his parishioners.
African officials believe his church is implicated in a child smuggling racket operating across Britain, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.
It is feared that the babies have been snatched from Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital, which is also under investigation following the disappearance of dozens of infants.
Kenyan police said they have taken 21 children into custody in connection with the Deya case and around 12 couples have already contacted detectives to claim the youngsters as their own.
Deya has instructed Glasgow human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar to fight attempts to extradite him to Kenya.