Former employee accuses Hillsong of misappropriating church finances

Hillsong has been dogged by scandal for several years.(Photo: Hillsong)

A former employee of Hillsong has accused the church of misappropriating its finances and giving "large cash gifts" to the family of its founding pastor, Brian Houston. 

According to an ABC Investigations report, Natalie Moses alleges in her lawsuit that Hillsong transferred money to international entities to avoid its charity obligations. 

She claims to have uncovered questionable record-keeping and attempts by Hillsong to illegally hide international transfers in breach of charity rules.

It is alleged that "significant" gifts were given to church directors as well as their family and friends, and that credit cards were used to buy designer products. 

Moses worked for over two years in Hillsong's financial department but claims she was suspended after challenging some of the church's financial operations and directives, in breach of the Fair Work Act. 

Documents filed in the lawsuit reveal that the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) has been investigating Hillsong since March. 

Josh Bornstein, legal counsel for Moses, said the allegations were "very serious" and suggestive of a "cowboy culture".

Lawyers for Hillsong told ABC that the church would defend itself against the claims.

"We are further instructed that Hillsong is continuing to work with the enquiries made by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission," they told the news network.

"As the matter is now before the Federal Court of Australia, it is inappropriate to make any further comment."

The case is expected to be heard in the Federal Court later this year.