The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its investment manager will pay a $5 million fine to settle regulatory charges that it hid a huge investment fund.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that Ensign Peak Advisers, the investment management firm that handles the LDS church’s finances, failed to file forms that would have disclosed the value of certain church investments. Instead, the firm filed forms for shell companies that obscured the church’s portfolio and misstated the firm’s control over the church’s investment decisions, the SEC said.
The SEC filed charges against both the church for causing the violations as well as Ensign Peak.
The LDS church was concerned that disclosure of its portfolio, which by 2018 had grown to approximately $32 billion, would lead to negative consequences, the SEC said.
To settle the charges, Ensign Peak agreed to pay a $4 million fine and the LDS church agreed to pay a $1 million penalty.
“We allege that the LDS Church’s investment manager, with the Church’s knowledge, went to great lengths to avoid disclosing the Church’s investments, depriving the Commission and the investing public of accurate market information,” Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a news release.
Members of the LDS church are expected to donate a tenth of their income to the church, a longtime practice known as tithing.
In a statement Tuesday, the LDS said Ensign Peak and the church cooperated with the government to seek a resolution.
“We affirm our commitment to comply with the law, regret mistakes made, and now consider this matter closed,” the church said.