A whistleblower from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared on 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 14, 2023, to discuss the alleged misuse of the church's finances. David Nielsen, a former senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, the church's investment firm, filed an IRS whistleblower complaint in 2019, accusing the church of hoarding $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes.
In Nielsen's interview with 60 Minutes, he claimed that the church used the funds to bail out for-profit businesses and amass a real estate empire. He also alleged that Ensign Peak Advisors pressured him to invest in companies that conflicted with the church's values.
Nielsen's allegations sparked an investigation by the IRS, which led to the church and Ensign Peak Advisors being fined $5 million in February 2022 for using charitable funds for non-charitable purposes.
In response to the allegations, church leaders released a statement affirming their commitment to comply with the law. They also emphasized that Ensign Peak Advisors was not a secret organization and that its finances were audited annually by an independent accounting firm.
The controversy surrounding Ensign Peak Advisors and the church's finances has raised questions about the transparency and accountability of religious institutions. Some have criticized the church for its lack of transparency and for using tithing and charitable funds to build a vast financial empire.
However, others argue that the church's financial practices are no different from those of other large organizations and that the allegations are an attack on religious freedom.
The Ensign Peak Advisors controversy has also highlighted the role of whistleblowers in exposing alleged wrongdoings. Whistleblowers like Nielsen play a crucial role in holding powerful institutions accountable and ensuring that they operate within the law and ethical standards.
Overall, the Ensign Peak Advisors controversy is a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability, especially for organizations with vast financial resources and influence. It also raises questions about the role of religion in modern society and the extent to which religious institutions should be subject to financial regulations.