SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A whistleblower from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will appear on 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 14 to discuss the alleged misuse of church finances.
It’s not the first time that we’re hearing about the allegations. Back in 2019, David Nielsen, a former employee of the church’s investment firm, claimed the misuse of billions of dollars in tithes — $100 billion, to be exact.
Nielsen reportedly sent a 74-page letter to the IRS alleging the stockpile and misuse of the tithing money. The allegations focus on the church’s investment firm, Ensign Peak Advisors, and its massive portfolio.
In a previous interview with ABC4, David’s brother, Lars, said that David collected documents and information for years before submitting his complaint to the IRS.
Nielsen also alleged that of the $100 billion fortune built by the investment arm of the church, hundreds of millions were used to bail out businesses with church ties.
That information was meant to strip the firm and its auxiliary agency, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of their non-profit and tax exempt status.
In February of 2023, the SEC charged the church and Ensign Peak Advisors for failing to file forms that would have disclosed the church’s investments, and for instead “filing forms for shell companies that obscured the Church’s portfolio and misstated Ensign Peak’s control over the Church’s investment decisions,” a press release states.
To settle the charges, Ensign Peak agreed to pay a $4 million penalty, while the church itself agreed to pay a $1 million penalty.
Also in February, Nielsen submitted a 90-page memorandum to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee demanding oversight into the church’s finances.
Fast forward to today, and 60 Minutes has released a promo on Twitter for a new episode, in which correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi states, “Every year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints collects $7 billion in contributions from its 17 million members. The church has its own investment firm, but there are questions now about how millions of those dollars have been used by the famously private church.”
The church addressed the SEC settlement with the following statement:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its affiliated investment manager, Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., have settled a matter with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Investment managers who oversee a portfolio of public equities above a certain threshold are required to file Forms 13F with the SEC quarterly. These forms publicly disclose the names of the securities and their values.
Since 2000, Ensign Peak received and relied upon legal counsel regarding how to comply with its reporting obligations while attempting to maintain the privacy of the portfolio. As a result, Ensign Peak established separate companies (LLCs) that each filed Forms 13F instead of a single aggregated filing. Ensign Peak and the Church believe that all securities required to be reported were included in the filings by the separate companies.
In June 2019, the SEC first expressed concern about Ensign Peak’s reporting approach. Ensign Peak adjusted its approach and began filing a single aggregated report. Since that time, 13 quarterly reports have been filed in full accordance with SEC requirements.
This settlement relates to how the forms were filed previously. Ensign Peak and the Church have cooperated with the government over a period of time as we sought resolution.
We affirm our commitment to comply with the law, regret mistakes made, and now consider this matter closed.