The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has come under public scrutiny recently due to an investigation into its investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors Inc. The investigation comes just over three years after whistle-blower David Nielsen—a member of the church and former Ensign Peak investment manager—exposed the organization’s questionable use of funds. Since then, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been looking into the activities of Ensign Peak.
In its latest filing, Ensign Peak reported $40.2 billion in U.S. stock holdings. The church has separate investment holdings, including farms, timber, real estate, and stock. Ensign Peak also oversees investment in foreign markets, such as China, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Ensign Peak Advisors Inc., an investment management firm in Salt Lake City, is owned by the LDS Church, which is also headquartered there. The organization is responsible for managing the church’s investment, including the $40.2 billion in U.S. stock. The firm is run by a board of trustees appointed by the LDS Church.
Ensign Peak has made disclosure filings under its own name with the SEC since February 2020. Doug Andersen, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the filings are part of the “ongoing process of reporting information about financial investment.”
The investigation is focused on allegations of mismanagement, including allegations of insider trading. The allegations have been brought forward by Ensign Peak Advisors, the Utah-based faith's investment arm. The SEC has been looking into the allegations and recently released a statement, which “reframes and renews allegations about Ensign Peak Advisors and their management of the Church’s investment.”
The SEC has also been looking into the firm’s investment in Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU), Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. (RGA), and other publicly traded companies. A number of other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also modified their holdings of MU. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc lifted its stake in MU by 6.6% in the first quarter. Graham Capital Wealth Management LLC's holdings in Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. are worth $1,081,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc grew its stake in Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. by 7.7% in the first quarter.
A number of other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc. increased its stake in Reinsurance Group of America, Inc. by 1.1% in the first quarter. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc. now owns 18,921 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,073,000 after purchasing an additional 200 shares during the period.
The investigation into Ensign Peak Advisors has been ongoing for several months, and a former employee of the firm has come forward with additional allegations about the firm’s investment. The former employee, who worked at Ensign Peak Advisors for several years, claims the firm was mismanaging its investment and acting in a manner not befitting a religious organization. A $100 billion investment fund owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ensign Peak Advisors is being investigated by the SEC for possible mismanagement of its funds.
The SEC has yet to announce any specific findings, but the investigation is ongoing. It is unclear at this time how long the investigation will last, but it is likely to continue for some time. The results of the investigation could have far-reaching implications for the LDS Church and its investment.
A picture of a person looking at a computer with the words "Ensign Peak Advisors Inc" on the screen.