UPDATED: Whistleblower alleges church misused $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Serious allegations have been made that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints misused billions of dollars in tithes.

According to an article published by The Washington Post, a whistleblower named David Nielsen sent a 74 page letter to the IRS accusing the church of stock piling and misusing $100 billion of tithing money.

The article said Nielsen, until recently, worked at “Ensign Peak Advisors,” an investment company owned by the church and is responsible for church investments.

Nielsen submitted a letter and official form to the IRS, under penalty of perjury, that the church’s nonprofit tax-exempt status should be revoked as the church was using the tithing money for church operations. If his accusations turn out to be correct, he stands to gain a percentage of the money collected by the IRS.

The Utah State Tax Commission says a non profit organization is founded on purposes like charity, science and public safety but the article claims between 2010 and 2014 the church’s investment advisers pumped four billion dollars into City Creek Mall, and used money to bail out a church ran insurance company.

Nielsen, according to the article said the Church typically brings in 7 billion in tithing annually and 6 billion of that is used for building upkeep, operating costs and so on. The remaining billion dollars is transferred to this investment company called Ensign Peak Advisors, which is then put into investment portfolios to generate returns.

According to Nielsen, the Church’s investments at Ensign have grown from 12 billion in 1997 to over $100 billion today. The complaint also clarifies that Ensign has not directly funded “religious, educational or charitable activities for 22 years”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to the allegations with a statement as well as links to how the church handles its finances:

We take seriously the responsibility to care for the tithes and donations received from members. The vast majority of these funds are used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church including more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work and missionary efforts throughout the world. Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. This is a sound doctrinal and financial principletaught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents and lived by the Church and its members. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission.

Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information. The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves. We continue to welcome the opportunity to work with officials to address questions they may have.

Here are a few links to the resources:

·        Church Finances and a Growing Global Faith

·        The Spiritual Foundations of Church Financial Self-Reliance

·        Q&A on Church Finances

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