Nielsen’s estimate of Ensign’s assets places the Mormon investment organization among some of the country’s wealthiest companies and charities. The church did not respond to detailed questions from The Post about the complaint and said in a statement Monday that it does not discuss specific financial transactions. By comparison, the Catholic church in the United States was reported in 2005 to receive $8 billion in annual tithes. “They have to come up with a justification based on the entity alone. “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.”. "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." A Utah resident was among the dozens of people President Donald Trump pardoned Tuesday on his last full day in office. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. 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. Hackney, who served in the IRS chief counsel’s office, has been retained by The Post to analyze the whistleblower documents. The whistleblower allegation that Ensign Peak Advisors, has in its over 20 years of existence accumulated over $100 billion dollars in excess tithes and the investment returns thereon is … The investment fund, called Ensign Peak Advisors, quietly submitted the filing Feb. 14 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “I wish to give the entire church the assurance that tithing funds have not and will not be used to acquire this property. Under the headline “The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. 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. Ensign Peakis a peak in the foothillsnear downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. Tell us your experiences with this confidential form. Ensign Peak Advisors is based out of Salt Lake City. 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. He claims Ensign Peak is not meeting IRS … 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%. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission.”. A Taubman spokeswoman declined to comment. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World,” the Journal explored the remarkable growth of the investment … The complaint was filed by David A. Nielsen, a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until … 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.”. 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. The mall, partly owned by the church, had also been hit by the financial crisis. newsletter, The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. “I know that sometimes newspapers use anonymous sources,” he said. 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 … 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 agency has granted tax … A graphic accompanying this story overstated the size of Harvard’s endowment, which is $40.9 billion, not $49.3 billion. Utahn among those President Trump pardons on way out the door. 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. 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' assets reportedly total between $80billion and $100billion in 2019, eclipsing Harvard University’s endowment at around $40billion. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering corporate accountability. His twin brother, Lars P. Nielsen, provided a copy of the complaint to The Post, along with dozens of supporting documents. Company profile page for Ensign Peak Investments LLC including stock price, company news, press releases, executives, board members, and contact information 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. “We appreciate your years of service and the contributions you have made for the church,” the letter concluded. 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. Part of the investments were with Fisher Investments, but some money was pulled after controversial comments from founder Kenneth Fi… 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 … While the church may argue Ensign contributes to a broader religious and charitable mission, as a separate corporate entity, it must show that “it furthers a charitable purpose exclusively on its own,” Hackney said. 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. 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. Nonprofit organizations, including religious groups, are exempted in the United States from paying taxes on their income. Neither Willes nor an official from Beneficial Life responded to messages seeking comment. Leaders have consistently tried to downplay speculation about the extent of the church’s wealth. 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. The company files abbreviated annual tax returns that report the taxes it paid on the small fraction of its investment activity that is taxable. There are currently 1658 companies in Mr. Clouse’s portfolio. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc has 20 total employees across all of its locations and … The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private philanthropic foundation in the world at $47.8 billion. 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. Mark Willes, Deseret Management’s president and chief executive, was reported to have said that no tithing money was used in the transaction. Ensign employees “are trained to be especially sensitive” about data flowing outside the corporation, the complaint states. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc is located in Salt Lake City, UT, United States and is part of the Asset Management Industry. 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. 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.”. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World,” the Journal explored the remarkable growth of the investment fund. During his 2002 interview with a German reporter, Hinckley was told that several major denominations in Germany published records of their finances. 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. “Of course, all corporations need to guard their information, but the lengths that [Ensign] goes to borders on paranoia.”. 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. There were 75 million Catholics in the U.S. in 2010, according to Pew Research Center. Nielsen did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails seeking comment. “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. It is approximately one mile north of the Utah State Capitoland sits … Ensign Peak (40.794721, -111.890959) From the trailhead, follow the obvious, well-maintained trail to the top of the peak. 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. Ensign’s human resources director told him in a reply that managers had decided it would be best to terminate his employment Sept. 3. Read the Wall Street Journal story. 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. “The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves.”. 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, … “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. David Nielsen offered to continue working until Oct. 4. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. … Start your day with the top stories you missed while you were sleeping. 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. The trail swings around the mountain and approaches the summit from the north. Copyright © 2020 Deseret News Publishing Company. “Once that money comes in, it’s gotta go back out,” he said. 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. Current Assets for Ensign Peak Advisors is … 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. Have you worked for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints? 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. 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. Little has been publicly disclosed by Ensign, whose website address redirects readers to the church’s homepage. “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. The church typically collects about $7 billion each year in contributions from members, according to the complaint. 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. 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. Looking at the other organizations shouldn’t be a means of justifying hoarding.”. 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 … “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. (Subscription required). Nielsen said the funds were taken specifically from the Ensign account that receives surplus tithing. Ensign Peak Advisors's … 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 … 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. The problem may be that our pews have grown too soft. 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. 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. 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. While accumulating this wealth, Ensign has not directly funded any religious, educational or charitable activities in 22 years, the complaint said. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. A Time magazine cover story, “Mormons, Inc.,” published in 1997, estimated the church’s total assets at $30 billion or more. Lars Nielsen, a health-care consultant in Minnesota, said he prepared the complaint with his brother and helped him submit it to the IRS. The Mormon Church’s wealth and investment acumen has been widely reported. Despite the bailout, Beneficial Life announced it would terminate 150 of its 214 Utah workers and stop writing new insurance policies. On Tuesday, after the first version of this story was published, the church said it takes seriously its responsiblity to care for members’ donations. 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. The largest investments … 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. His estimate of $7 billion in annual revenue points to a relatively high rate of contributions from the 15 million members. This permits it to operate as a nonprofit and to make money largely free from U.S. taxes. 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. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. 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. Clarke did not respond to an email seeking comment. 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. 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) … 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. For the investment company, see Ensign Peak Advisors. 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. If I recall correctly, our Ex-Mormon insider going by the name "Flew The Coop" posted about Ensign Peak. No threshold for this test is specified, and the agency instead considers examples case by case. I know they’ve looked into investment … The exemption requires that Ensign operate exclusively for religious, educational or other charitable purposes, a condition that Nielsen says the firm has not met. It also accuses church leaders of using the tax-exempt donations to prop up a pair of businesses. Ensign Peak Advisors (Ensign) is the investment manager for assets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).. 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).. Why not the Mormons? Nor will they be used in developing it for commercial purposes,” Hinckley said when plans for the mall were unveiled in 2003. Lars Nielsen said in a statement to The Post that his brother asked him to write an exposé on his former employer. 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. 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. 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. He is seeking a reward from the IRS, which offers whistleblowers a cut of unpaid taxes that it recovers. 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