Under the headline “The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. 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 alleges in the complaint that Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s investment arm, has holdings worth between $99 billion and $101 billion. Ensign Peak Advisors (Ensign) is the investment manager for assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).. newsletter, The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. Ensign Peak (40.794721, -111.890959) From the trailhead, follow the obvious, well-maintained trail to the top of the peak. 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. A 2012 Reuters article reported that the church owned “about $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses around the world, and controls farms, ranches, shopping malls and other commercial ventures worth many billions more.”. It is approximately one mile north of the Utah State Capitoland sits … This permits it to operate as a nonprofit and to make money largely free from U.S. taxes. “I know that sometimes newspapers use anonymous sources,” he said. 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. “They have to come up with a justification based on the entity alone. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. Copyright © 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company. 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. 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. 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. Start your day with the top stories you missed while you were sleeping. 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. “We appreciate your years of service and the contributions you have made for the church,” the letter concluded. Unlike other nonprofits, religious organizations are not required to publicly report their income or assets. The mall, partly owned by the church, had also been hit by the financial crisis. It details a church fortune far exceeding past estimates and encompassing stocks, bonds and cash. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World,” the Journal explored the remarkable growth of the investment … “I wish to give the entire church the assurance that tithing funds have not and will not be used to acquire this property. 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. Introducing Ensign Partners, an Arizona based company focused on helping connect people in our community to professionals in the areas of financial, insurance, tax, legal, mortgage and realty. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc has 20 total employees across all of its locations and … The problem may be that our pews have grown too soft. Have you worked for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints? “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. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. In June 2012, Nielsen founded his … According to The Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the complaint lodged with the IRS, the funds were held in accounts dedicated to charitable causes, and the church's investment division, Ensign Peak Advisors, was listed as a nonprofit organization. The investment fund, called Ensign Peak Advisors, quietly submitted the filing Feb. 14 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 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%. The company files abbreviated annual tax returns that report the taxes it paid on the small fraction of its investment activity that is taxable. "Ensign Peak's president is Roger G. Clarke, an investment and options scholar who concurrently serves as chairman of Analytic Investors Inc., a Los Angeles firm with $3.1 billion in assets under management, as of Dec. 31, 2002." Ensign Peak Advisors: an investment fund of the Mormon Church. Nielsen’s complaint comes as many Mormons across the United States are engaged in discussions with their bishops, traditionally held in December, to “settle” their dues to the church. 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. 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. “Of course, all corporations need to guard their information, but the lengths that [Ensign] goes to borders on paranoia.”. His twin brother, Lars P. Nielsen, provided a copy of the complaint to The Post, along with dozens of supporting documents. Nielsen Founded His Own Tech Startip in Silicon Valley in 2012. Tell us your experiences with this confidential form. He is seeking a reward from the IRS, which offers whistleblowers a cut of unpaid taxes that it recovers. According to the complaint, Ensign’s president, Roger Clarke, has told others that the amassed funds would be used in the event of the second coming of Christ. Clarke did not respond to an email seeking comment. Why not the Mormons? Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc. (Ensign Peak Advisors) is a Endowment located in Salt Lake City, UT United States, North America, and was founded in 1997. 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. The complaint describes an aggressive guarding of information by leaders at Ensign. On Monday, the church told The Post that through its involvement in the City Creek mall, it had “increased local economic activity during a financial downturn and attracted visitors and residents to Salt Lake City’s historic downtown.”. 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Based on internal accounting documents from February 2018, the complaint estimates the portfolio has grown in value from $12 billion in 1997, when Ensign was formed, to about $100 billion today. 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. During his 2002 interview with a German reporter, Hinckley was told that several major denominations in Germany published records of their finances. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses. 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 trail swings around the mountain and approaches the summit from the north. Those assets are money-consuming.”. 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. The church typically collects about $7 billion each year in contributions from members, 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. A Time magazine cover story, “Mormons, Inc.,” published in 1997, estimated the church’s total assets at $30 billion or more. … Leaders have consistently tried to downplay speculation about the extent of the church’s wealth. There were 75 million Catholics in the U.S. in 2010, according to Pew Research Center. He said he was coming forward without his brother’s approval because he believed the information was too important to remain confidential. Neither Willes nor an official from Beneficial Life responded to messages seeking comment. 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. 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. Company profile page for Ensign Peak Investments LLC including stock price, company news, press releases, executives, board members, and contact information That said, I would be very surprised if Ensign Peak isn’t using at least some leverage. Hackney, who served in the IRS chief counsel’s office, has been retained by The Post to analyze the whistleblower documents. 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. Ensign Peak Advisors (EP) is the investment manager for assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).. He also provided information on Ensign’s bank accounts and a list of employees whom officials should contact. The largest investments … It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World,” the Journal explored the remarkable growth of the investment fund. Utahn among those President Trump pardons on way out the door. The Washington Post has a story about a whistleblower’s disclosures to the IRS that Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc, founded in 1997, has accumulated over $100 billion in assets without ever … 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. All Rights Reserved, Wall Street Journal explores growth of church’s Ensign Peak Advisors investments. 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. But those assets, you have to know this, are not money-producing. Nielsen said the funds were taken specifically from the Ensign account that receives surplus tithing. Ensign’s human resources director told him in a reply that managers had decided it would be best to terminate his employment Sept. 3. He claims Ensign Peak is not meeting IRS … 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 … 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. Lars Nielsen, a health-care consultant in Minnesota, said he prepared the complaint with his brother and helped him submit it to the IRS. 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. 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. “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. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc is located in Salt Lake City, UT, United States and is part of the Asset Management Industry. There are currently 1658 companies in Mr. Clouse’s portfolio. He suggests church leaders favor continuing to collect tithes to avoid “losing control over their members’ behavior” by releasing them from their financial obligations. I know they’ve looked into investment … Mark Willes, Deseret Management’s president and chief executive, was reported to have said that no tithing money was used in the transaction. Steven Rich and Alice Crites contributed to this report. Ensign Peakis a peak in the foothillsnear downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Little has been publicly disclosed by Ensign, whose website address redirects readers to the church’s homepage. The complaint was filed by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until … Sign up for the “Once that money comes in, it’s gotta go back out,” he said. A Taubman spokeswoman declined to comment. 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. Nor will they be used in developing it for commercial purposes,” Hinckley said when plans for the mall were unveiled in 2003. The Wall Street Journal on Saturday published a story on Ensign Peak Advisors, the investment arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ensign employees “are trained to be especially sensitive” about data flowing outside the corporation, the complaint states. It details a church fortune far exceeding past estimates and encompassing stocks, bonds and cash. 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. 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. Individual shares of stock identified as part of the investment fund reportedly include Apple, Chevron, Visa, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Amazon, and Google. 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.”. Ensign Peak Advisors' assets reportedly total between $80billion and $100billion in 2019, eclipsing Harvard University’s endowment at around $40billion. Under the headline “ The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. “We simply think that information belongs to those who made the contribution, and not to the world,” said Hinckley, who died in 2008. See them here. 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. Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Catholics in the U.S., a population of 75 million in 2010, not 170 million. Looking at the other organizations shouldn’t be a means of justifying hoarding.”. The church also makes money through various investment vehicles, including a trust company and an investment fund called Ensign Peak Advisors, which employs managers who specialize in international … 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. The 15 million members under the headline “ the Mormon church law governing our donations, investments,,! 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