Preacher convicted of bogus Covid cure fraud claims he can’t afford fine

A preacher convicted of fraud for selling a bogus cure for Covid has said he cannot afford to pay any financial penalties despite having more than £300,000 in trading accounts, according to prosecutors.

Bishop Climate Wiseman, 47, sold mixtures of hyssop, cedarwood and olive oil for £91 under names including “divine cleansing oil” and “plague protection oil”, or as part of a “divine plague protection kit”, containing a prayer card and scarlet yarn.

As head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell, south London, he said he had a visitation from God and told jurors during his trial at Inner London Crown Court that he had performed miracles in the past.

After his conviction in December, Judge Nigel Peters KC adjourned sentencing so his finances could be investigated to determine his ability to pay any financial penalty or court costs.

They revealed that Wiseman has over £300,000 circulating between various trading accounts, which include car and taxi businesses.

Prosecutor Richard Heller said: “The bank accounts provided by the defendant show what might be thought of as a somewhat irregular financial position.

“There is circulation of very substantial sums of money between his accounts, first-time credits of at least £300,000 over the last six months. At least half of that is in his personal bank accounts, not those which may be held by a company.”

Judge Peters said Wiseman paid £27,000 to a solicitor for legal advice just before Christmas from an account named London Local Car Services.

Climate Wiseman
Bishop Climate Wiseman, 47, was convicted of fraud at Inner London Crown Court for selling ‘plague protection kits’ with claims a mixture made from oil and red string was a cure for Covid-19 (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Charles Burton, defending, said Wiseman cannot pay any financial penalty imposed by the court because he only has an allowance of £400 a month from his church and that other sources of income were for expenses incurred through church work or to go towards charities in Africa.

He said: “There are a number of expenses that were paid by the church. The position is that where he does incur expenses they will be in effect provided for by income, otherwise it goes to the carrying out of the church’s functions.”

Looking at Wiseman’s accounts, Judge Peters said: “He’s entitled to shop at Holland & Barret, he’s entitled to eat a meal on the train, he’s entitled to go to Pret a Manger, but money doesn’t grow on trees, it has to come from somewhere. That’s all I’m concerned with.”

Also known as Dr Climate Wiseman and Climate Irungu, he and his church were investigated in 2016 for offering an oil for sale which was said to cure cancer, but no prosecution was brought after the product was withdrawn.

Southwark Trading Standards was alerted to his Covid scam on March 24, 2020 – the day after the country was plunged into a nationwide lockdown – while the BBC also carried out an investigation.

Wiseman, of Camberwell, south London, will return to Inner London Crown Court on February 1, to be sentenced for fraud.