The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose parishioners are known as Mormons, has been accused of keeping billions of dollars in donations intended for charity, instead building the church’s wealth. A whistleblower made the allegation in a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), reported The Washington Post.
David A. Nielsen, 41 , worked at Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s investment division as a senior portfolio manager according the Post. His twin brother Lars Nielsen helped him craft the complaint to the IRS.
“Having seen tens of billions in contributions and scores more in investment returns come in, and having seen nothing except two unlawful distributions to for-profit concerns go out, he was dejected beyond words, and so was I,” Lars Nielsen wrote.
Since the church is a non-profit entity, it does not pay taxes on earnings. According to the complaint, the church brings in about $7 billion in donations each year and $1 billion of that is given to Ensign to invest.
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The church also owns real estate and other income generating means, yet Nielsen’s complaint alleges the company has not invested any of the money into any charitable causes for which it is intended in the last 22 years. Instead the complaint alleges payments were made to for-profit entities.
In response, the church stated a “vast majority” of the money it receives are ““used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church,” including temples, education and missionary work.”
“Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future,” the statement continued. “This is a sound doctrinal and financial principle taught 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.”
Nielsen has asked the ITS to revoke the church’s non-profit status so it can pay the billions it owes in taxes.