David Nielsen talks about Mormon Church tax evasion
David Nielsen on CBC 60 Minutes (Image via Twitter)

CBS 60 Minutes talked about David Nielsen, the investment manager of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who became an IRS whistleblower in 2019 over the Mormon church’s tax evasion case. He filed a complaint to the IRS that the Ensign Peak Advisors, under the mask of charity, violated its tax-exempt status by directing the Mormon church’s funds built from member donations to bail out businesses.

Whistleblower David Nielsen recently made his first public appearance on CBS 60 Minutes, talked about the Mormon church fund, IRS report, and more. He shared that during his nine years working at Ensign Peak Advisors, the value of the firm’s investments crossed the $100 billion mark. Nielsen also shared that the firm used false records and statements to appear as a charity while stockpiling money and misleading the church members.

Ensign Peak Advisors’ tax evasion and illegal investment of Mormon Church fund explained

Mormon Church and Ensign Advisors created 13 paper companies
David Nielsen complained to IRS after finding out about Mormon Church’s investments while working at Ensign Advisors (Image via Twitter)

Each year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints collects around $7 billion from its 17 million members as donations. The church expects members to contribute about 10% of their income to pay the church’s bills and fund various programs.

  • According to CBS News, whatever is left from the donations (estimated $1 billion per year) is secured into a reserve fund at Ensign Peak. As a registered nonprofit, the investments made from reserve funds grow tax-free, and allegedly it has grown beyond $100 billion since 1997.

David Nielsen blew the whistle on the non-charitable activities of Ensign Peak to IRS in 2019

David Nielsen told CBC 60 Minutes that he left Wall Street in 2009 to work at Ensign Peak because he wanted to work for a charity. He recalled thinking he could use his skills to do good ‘but the funds were never used’ for charity.

  • In 2013, Nielsen witnessed a document at a meeting showing a $1.4 billion investment from Ensign Peak to build a mall on the church-owned land. Additionally, Nielsen alleged that $600 million was used to help Beneficial Life, a for-profit, church-owned insurance company.
  • David Nielsen further shared that his breaking point came in 2018 when a website called Mormonleaks linked church members to paper companies. Those only on-paper companies generated billions of dollars in stocks and bonds under the control of Ensign Peak. Due to their illegal dealings, Nielsen decided to reveal everything to IRS.

David Neilsen received a response from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2021 after reporting to IRS in 2019

David Nielsen resigned from his position in 2019 and filed a complaint with the IRS. It wasn’t until 2021 that Nielsen heard from investigators from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC launched its Ensign Peak investigation after the “Mormonleaks” report linked the church to the paper companies.

  • In February, the SEC fined the Mormon church and Ensign Peak $5 million as they discovered that the church “went to great lengths” to create 13 shell companies to hide $32 billion in securities over 20 years.
  • Nielsen hasn’t disclosed the details of his complaints. However, he shared that he provided all the professional courtesy to the IRS and the SEC but also felt the matter was too important to slip.

Mormon church’s Bishop refutes the allegations stating Neilsen didn’t have the complete picture

One of three church bishops overseeing Ensign Peak, Christopher Waddell, refuted David Nielsen’s allegations stating they are “flat-out wrong.”

  • He shared that the Mormon church owned Beneficial Life and used its resources to bail it out during the 2008/09 financial crisis. Bishop Waddell also shared that the money provided for the mall project was an investment for Church’s benefit.
  • According to CBS 60 Minutes, bishop Waddell exercised his rights to remain silent about Church’s finances according to IRS regulations and declined to disclose details of the investments. He also declined to share the value of Ensign Peak’s assets. However, the bishop clarified that David Nielsen didn’t have a full picture of church finances.

What’s your opinion on the whistleblower David Nielsen’s interview on 60 Minutes about the Mormon church fund and tax evasion? Share with us in the comments below. For more content, stay with us here at Spiel Times.

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Kairavi Pandya is a Senior Writer at Spiel Times. She has a fascination with cinema, multi-generational literature, and old-school Kpop. In her spare time, she likes to learn choreographies and catch up with healing K-dramas. She is also pursuing her undergrad degree.