All Rights Reserved, Wall Street Journal explores growth of church’s Ensign Peak Advisors investments. On those returns, Ensign has sometimes stated that it held $1 million, other times “more than $1,000,000,” and it once left this section of the paperwork unfilled. He claims Ensign Peak is not meeting IRS … David Nielsen offered to continue working until Oct. 4. Nielsen said the funds were taken specifically from the Ensign account that receives surplus tithing. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic foundation in the world at $47.8 billion. This allowed the investment … The agency has granted tax … Ensign Peak Advisors: an investment fund of the Mormon Church. The church typically collects about $7 billion each year in contributions from members, according to the complaint. IRS rules dictate that a nonprofit organization must carry out charitable activity that is “commensurate in scope with its financial resources” to maintain its tax-exempt status. … We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. In its statement Tuesday, the church said the “vast majority” of the funds it receives from donations are “used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church,” including temples, education and missionary work. The confidential document, received by the IRS on Nov. 21, accuses church leaders of misleading members — and possibly breaching federal tax rules — by stockpiling their surplus donations instead of using them for charitable works. Citing an internal presentation that he includes as an exhibit, Nielsen alleges that in 2009, Ensign spent funds on rescuing the insurance firm, Beneficial Life, which was suffering from its exposure to mortgage-backed securities amid the financial crisis. One year after ReligionUnplugged.com broke stories about a secretive investment firm connected to the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints, the firm – Ensign Peak Advisors (EPA) … “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. Have you worked for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints? “Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information,” said a statement attributed to the church’s First Presidency, its top governing body. Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc 13F annual report Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc is an investment fund managing more than $36.8 billion ran by Don Clouse. Nielsen said the transfer was not treated as a loan and was not recorded as an investment on Ensign’s balance sheet. Ensign Peak Advisors (EP) is the investment manager for assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).. His twin brother, Lars P. Nielsen, provided a copy of the complaint to The Post, along with dozens of supporting documents. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. In addition to criticizing the scale of wealth accumulated by the church, Nielsen’s complaint accuses church leaders of acting improperly on the rare occasions that funds have been paid out from the investment division. Yet the internal presentation supplied to the IRS by Nielsen refers to a $600 million “withdrawal” from Ensign to Beneficial Life in 2009, citing a page from an Ensign slide presentation entitled “Framework and Exposures” and dated March 2013. I know they’ve looked into investment … Thank goodness, Biden undoes ban on travelers from some majority-Muslim countries, What faith leaders are praying for on Inauguration Day, Actor, actress, former pro footballer join list of keynote speakers at RootsTech Connect, A complete list of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ renames temple planned for Tooele Valley, announces new location. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World,” the Journal explored the remarkable growth of the investment fund. IRS rules state that nonprofits “must not provide a substantial benefit to private interests” and that the earnings of registered religious organizations must not benefit “any private individual or shareholder” to avoid jeopardizing tax-exempt status. The trail swings around the mountain and approaches the summit from the north. The church also owns real estate worth billions of dollars, according to the complaint, which focuses on surplus tithing money and says that the church may have additional holdings not managed by Ensign. “They have to come up with a justification based on the entity alone. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering corporate accountability. The investment fund, called Ensign Peak Advisors, quietly submitted the filing Feb. 14 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The largest investments … He also provided information on Ensign’s bank accounts and a list of employees whom officials should contact. Start your day with the top stories you missed while you were sleeping. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses. That said, I would be very surprised if Ensign Peak isn’t using at least some leverage. The exemption requires that Ensign operate exclusively for religious, educational or other charitable purposes, a condition that Nielsen says the firm has not met. Under the headline “ The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. (Subscription required). It is approximately one mile north of the Utah State Capitoland sits … The company files abbreviated annual tax returns that report the taxes it paid on the small fraction of its investment activity that is taxable. He suggests church leaders favor continuing to collect tithes to avoid “losing control over their members’ behavior” by releasing them from their financial obligations. Church representatives spoke of the principles of preparation and self-reliance that they encourage in their members and which are practiced by the organization. This limited type of tax return requires Ensign to disclose the total value of its holdings, which the complaint asserts, has for years run to tens of billions of dollars. Clarke did not respond to an email seeking comment. While about $6 billion of that income is used to cover annual operating costs, the remaining $1 billion or so is transferred to Ensign, which plows some into an investment portfolio to generate returns, according to the complaint. Quoting a former church president during the speech last year, Caussé, said: “When all is said and done, the only real wealth of the church is in the faith of its people.”, When interviewed by a German reporter in 2002 about suggestions that the church had amassed billions, then-President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Yes, if you count all of our assets, yes, we are well-off. “We appreciate your years of service and the contributions you have made for the church,” the letter concluded. If Ensign Peak is unlevered and long-only, then the $32b number should be pretty accurate as the amount of capital it has in US stock investments. According to Nielsen, $2 billion from Ensign has been used over the past decade to bail out a church-run insurance company and a shopping mall in Salt Lake City that was a joint venture between the church and a major real estate company. What this NAACP leader and pastor learned from Martin Luther King Jr. A new political home for the ‘moveable middle’: Welcome to the Giraffe Party, Chris Evans reveals how he watched ‘Avengers: Endgame’ for the first time, Larry Scott to step down as Pac-12 commissioner this summer, The Utah Jazz have been literally the best team in the NBA during their 6-game win streak, ‘Star Wars’ launches new ‘High Republic’ digital shorts. “Once that money comes in, it’s gotta go back out,” he said. Microsoft, Alphabet and Apple each hold between $100 billion and $136 billion in cash, according to the most recent company filings, while Harvard University has the country’s largest academic endowment at $40.9 billion. Some of that mystery evaporated late last year when a former employee revealed in a whistleblower complaint with the Internal Revenue Service that the fund, called Ensign Peak Advisors, … Amid complaints from members about the church venturing into retail, church leaders have repeatedly made assurances over several years that no money from tithes would be spent on developing the mall, a joint venture with the Taubman real estate group. Nielsen’s complaint further alleges that between 2009 and 2014, Ensign pumped $1.4 billion in several installments into the City Creek Center, a shopping mall in downtown Salt Lake City featuring a retractable roof. Ensign Peak Advisors's … In a declaration signed under penalty of perjury, Nielsen urges the IRS to strip the nonprofit of its tax-exempt status and alleges that Ensign could owe billions in taxes. He said he was coming forward without his brother’s approval because he believed the information was too important to remain confidential. Under the headline “The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It details a church fortune far exceeding past estimates and encompassing stocks, bonds and cash. The Mormon Church’s wealth and investment acumen has been widely reported. Ensign Peak (40.794721, -111.890959) From the trailhead, follow the obvious, well-maintained trail to the top of the peak. Hackney, the University of Pittsburgh tax law expert, said the payments would raise red flags if they were indeed made to for-profit entities that were separate from Ensign and not recorded as investments. Nielsen Founded His Own Tech Startip in Silicon Valley in 2012. There are currently 1658 companies in Mr. Clouse’s portfolio. Part of the investments were with Fisher Investments, but some money was pulled after controversial comments from founder Kenneth Fi… Ensign Peakis a peak in the foothillsnear downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. “Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future,” the statement said. It details a church fortune far exceeding past estimates and encompassing stocks, bonds and cash. “I wish to give the entire church the assurance that tithing funds have not and will not be used to acquire this property. The mall, partly owned by the church, had also been hit by the financial crisis. The returns, which are publicly available, show that in some recent years, the company has reported losses of millions of dollars — a period in which, according to the complaint, a fuller accounting of its operations would have shown billions of dollars in profits. Steven Rich and Alice Crites contributed to this report. Their last reported 13F filing for Q2 2020 included $36,794,780,000 in managed 13F securities and a top 10 holdings concentration of 24.6%. Ensign’s human resources director told him in a reply that managers had decided it would be best to terminate his employment Sept. 3. Roger Clarke, the head of Ensign Peak Advisors, and members of the church’s Presiding Bishopric sat for interviews with the Journal for the story. Company profile page for Ensign Peak Investments LLC including stock price, company news, press releases, executives, board members, and contact information During my fundraising, we met with several Utah based investment groups like Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah, Deseret Mutual, and the big kahuna of them all, Ensign Peak Advisors which is the super secretive investment … These documents were sent to the IRS whistleblower office in Ogden, Utah, together with a thumb drive containing digital versions of documents and emails that Nielsen collected during his time at Ensign, the complaint says. Only four senior Ensign executives are permitted to see the company’s full financial statements, according to the complaint, and investment staff members may access information only on the Ensign assets relating to their own area of work. Nor will they be used in developing it for commercial purposes,” Hinckley said when plans for the mall were unveiled in 2003. The complaint was filed by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until September as a senior portfolio manager at the church’s investment division, a company named Ensign Peak Advisors that is based near the church’s headquarters. A graphic accompanying this story overstated the size of Harvard’s endowment, which is $40.9 billion, not $49.3 billion. Tell us your experiences with this confidential form. Sign up for the No documents are provided to support this claim, which is attributed to information David Nielsen gleaned from working at the company. Nielsen did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment. In June, the church raised the monthly charge paid by most families to cover the cost of their children serving as missionaries from $400 to $500 per month. For the investment company, see Ensign Peak Advisors. Nielsen told Ensign in a resignation letter dated Aug. 29 that his employment had become unworkable after his wife and children left the Mormon Church and asked him to follow them, according to a copy of the letter provided by Lars Nielsen. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc is located in Salt Lake City, UT, United States and is part of the Asset Management Industry. “I know that sometimes newspapers use anonymous sources,” he said. “We simply think that information belongs to those who made the contribution, and not to the world,” said Hinckley, who died in 2008. Together we can help the pieces of your financial … At the time, a church-owned newspaper reported that a different commercial church company, Deseret Management, had injected $594 million into Beneficial Life to make up its deficit. If I recall correctly, our Ex-Mormon insider going by the name "Flew The Coop" posted about Ensign Peak. The fund called Ensign Peak Advisors submitted a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 14 disclosing its holdings, which include $1.5 billion each in Apple and … “Would you pay tithing instead of water, electricity, or feeding your family if you knew that it would sit around by the billions until the Second Coming of Christ?” he wrote in a 74-page narrative that accompanied his complaint. There were 75 million Catholics in the U.S. in 2010, according to Pew Research Center. Mark Willes, Deseret Management’s president and chief executive, was reported to have said that no tithing money was used in the transaction. Looking at the other organizations shouldn’t be a means of justifying hoarding.”. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. Mormons, like members of some other faith groups, are asked to contribute 10 percent of their income to the church, a practice known as tithing. Individual shares of stock identified as part of the investment fund reportedly include Apple, Chevron, Visa, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Amazon, and Google. Nielsen’s estimate of Ensign’s assets places the Mormon investment organization among some of the country’s wealthiest companies and charities. A Utah resident was among the dozens of people President Donald Trump pardoned Tuesday on his last full day in office. The complaint filed by Nielsen comprised a signed Form 211, the formal piece of IRS paperwork for reporting tax avoidance, a notarized cover letter to officials, plus the 74-page narrative document co-written with his brother in which he detailed his allegations at length. During his 2002 interview with a German reporter, Hinckley was told that several major denominations in Germany published records of their finances. The church said in a report last year that its charitable arm had spent $2.2 billion in assistance since 1985, but did not provide a breakdown on spending. The complaint describes an aggressive guarding of information by leaders at Ensign. The complaint provides a window into the closely held finances of one of the nation’s most visible religious organizations, based in Salt Lake City. In a blog post for the Mormon website By Common Consent, Brunson explained that Ensign Peak Advisors falls under a murky category for the IRS. On Tuesday, after the first version of this story was published, the church said it takes seriously its responsiblity to care for members’ donations. Nielsen’s complaint is sharply critical of church leaders for continuing to ask for tithes, even from members who are struggling financially, while the church sits on a fortune. Nonprofit organizations, including religious groups, are exempted in the United States from paying taxes on their income. But those assets, you have to know this, are not money-producing. A former investment manager alleges in a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Washington Post. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World, Church responds to allegations made by former employee in IRS complaint, Boyd and Chapman: The Washington Post says the Church of Jesus Christ has billions. “But that is usually not best for a story.”, In remarks last year, a high-ranking cleric in the church, Bishop Gérald Caussé, said it “pays taxes on any income it derives from revenue-producing activities that are regularly carried on and are not substantially related to its tax-exempt purposes.”. Details of the church’s expenditures on charitable work are not publicly available, but in a lecture at the University of Oxford in 2016, a senior elder said the church had spent about $40 million a year over the past 30 years on welfare, humanitarian aid and other international projects. In a speech in March 2018, Caussé linked the church’s financial strategy to the “prophecies about the last days.” Just as the church maintains grain silos and emergency warehouses, Caussé said, so it “also methodically follows the practice of setting aside a portion of its revenues each year to prepare for any possible future needs.”. Despite the bailout, Beneficial Life announced it would terminate 150 of its 214 Utah workers and stop writing new insurance policies. No threshold for this test is specified, and the agency instead considers examples case by case. Company profile page for Ensign Peak Advisors Inc including stock price, company news, press releases, executives, board members, and contact information A Time magazine cover story, “Mormons, Inc.,” published in 1997, estimated the church’s total assets at $30 billion or more. While declining to discuss the extent of their holdings, church leaders have sought to explain the practice of continuing to collect tithes while accumulating financial reserves. The church did not detail its financial holdings nor confirm amounts first published by the Washington Post in December, after a former employee leveled tax fraud allegations at the church, allegations strongly denied by the church. Ensign employees “are trained to be especially sensitive” about data flowing outside the corporation, the complaint states. 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