TORONTO - The Canadian ministry behind "100 Huntley Street" said Thursday that church money was not misappropriated by two of the TV show's hosts who have been suspended over alleged links to a US$14.1-million Ponzi scheme.

Any investments made by Ron and Reynold Mainse were "personal and private" in nature and did not draw from the ministry's 20,000-plus pool of donors, said Doug McKenzie, CEO of Crossroads Christian Communications.

In May, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a court order halting the scheme allegedly run by Gordon Driver, 51, a dual resident of Hamilton and Las Vegas.

In its complaint, the SEC alleged Driver solicited friends, neighbours, and business acquaintances to invest in his company, Axcess Automation.

The commission alleged Driver's scheme flourished in mid-2007 when he made "inroads" with leaders of an Ontario Christian TV ministry. Close relatives of the ministry's founder invested in Axcess and acted as "finders" for Driver, encouraging others to do the same, the SEC said.

Driver allegedly offered to pay the finders five per cent commission on his 75 per cent share of the profits, said the SEC.

In June, the ministry issued a statement that Ron and Reynold Mainse had been asked to step down while Crossroads' board of directors reviewed their business dealings with Driver.

The Mainse brothers are the sons of televangelist David Mainse, who founded Crossroads in 1962 and produced the first episode of "100 Huntley Street" from the show's eponymous Toronto studio in 1977.

The brothers were taken off the air in May, McKenzie said Thursday. That step was the "best action" the ministry could take until more information about their alleged involvement in the Ponzi scheme became available, he said.

"We're deeply concerned about what is going on in this particular matter. These are allegations that are very serious and concern us very much," said McKenzie.

"What we're experiencing, I'm happy to say, is a donor base that is responding with continued good faith and tremendous support."

Crossroads' website lists Ron Mainse as both the ministry's president and the co-host of "100 Huntley Street." Reynold Mainse is the vice-president of Crossroads' missionary activities and appeared on the show weekly.

The TV show is billed by Crossroads as Canada's longest-running talk show, having broadcasted Christian-themed stories from more than 60 countries over four decades.

In a Ponzi scheme, money raised from new investors, rather than legitimate profits, is used to pay returns to initial investors.

Of the $14.1 million Driver raised he only invested $3.7 million to trade futures, and lost nearly 95 per cent of that amount, the SEC alleged. He was still able to pay out $10.7 million to investors and the only way he could have done that, the SEC alleged, was if he paid them with funds from new investors.

The Hamilton Spectator has reported that Driver told an SEC hearing earlier this year he'd worked for Crossroads as a teenager for a short time, and that David Mainse was like a father figure.

When Driver moved back to Ontario a few years ago, he discovered he was living in the same area as Ron Mainse, and that both he and Reynold eventually invested in Axcess, the paper reported.

The brothers did not immediately respond to interview requests.

No charges have been laid against either Ron or Reynold Mainse.