The Mormon Church has been notoriously secretive about their finances. In a post I wrote last year, part of the corruption and scandal I covered within the Mormon Church was at least $32 billion they had at their disposal thanks to 13 companies they owned.
Turns out that may have been quite the understatement.
A whistleblower has provided the IRS with evidence that the church has illegally amassed $100 billion intended for charity through tax-exempt investment funds.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they would like to be called, but more commonly called the Mormon Church, is no stranger to scandal.
This news, however, is really big. If true, then this would be a huge scandal.
David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon, allegedly filed the complaint with the IRS. He worked until September as a senior portfolio manager at the church’s investment division, a company named Ensign Peak Advisors.
As a support company and auxiliary to the church, Ensign Peak is allowed to make tax-exempt money in its work for the church provided the money is for religious, educational or other charitable purposes.
Nielsen alleges that the money has not been used to those ends.
The Washington Post obtained a copy of the complaint from Nielsen's brother, Lars, who claims that he helped David file the complaint with the IRS.
In the complaint, Nielsen urges the IRS to strip the nonprofit of its tax-exempt status and alleges that Ensign could owe billions in taxes. He claims that instead of using money for charitable or educational purposes, the church has been funneling the money into businesses and stockpiling it.
Mormons are encouraged to tithe, which requires them to pay ten percent of their income into the church. As a result, the church collects roughly $7 billion annually from its members, according to the complaint.
Nielsen alleges that while $6 billion of that money does go towards operating costs and the like, the remaining $1 billion has been used for investments in businesses to generate profit, instead of providing it towards charities.
In the complaint, Nielsen estimates the portfolio was worth $12 billion in 1997, when Ensign was formed, and is now worth roughly $100 billion today. And all that time, in 22 years, Nielsen alleges that Ensign has not used any money for charitable, educational, or religious needs, as required by law.
Nielsen states in the complaint that Ensign's president, Roger Clarke, has told insiders that the church is stockpiling the money for the second-coming of Christ. Which, if true... does not make a whole lot of sense to me. Is Jesus only going to rapture those who can foot the bill? What the hell?
It is still too early to know how this will play out. Nielsen filed the complaint with the IRS on November 21st. His brother only just provided the Washington Post with a copy, which they reported on yesterday. The IRS will likely need to engage in a lengthy investigation into this matter, if they decide to pursue it.
One thing is for sure: the Catholic Church is not the only one with skeletons in their closet, or involved in shady financial practices.