Recently, the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been in the news regarding a case they have against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Subsequently, critics accuse the Church of intentionally hiding billions of dollars in investments.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns an investment management company called Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc., which is required to file forms with the SEC quarterly, including Form 13F. Form 13F publicly discloses the “securities holdings of institutional investors” and is required by the SEC to be filed by institutional investment managers who have investment discretion of $100 million or more. Instead of filing the forms through Ensign Peak, investment managers filed them through 13 companies below Ensign Peak between 1997 and 2019. Doing this divided the assets into different companies, which is done for many reasons, such as protecting assets or allowing for more privacy. When the Church became aware of the SEC requirement, it altered its practices to be in compliance with the rules, and now the Church’s stock portfolio is all filed under Ensign Peak each quarter.
In a press release from the SEC on February 21, the SEC alleged that the Church went to “great lengths” to “avoid disclosing the Church’s investments, depriving the Commission and the investing public of accurate market information.”
A statement from the Church released on February 21 shares that Ensign Peak relies on legal counsel to determine how to comply with the reporting requirements from the SEC while “attempting to maintain the privacy of the portfolio.” The Church and Ensign Peak have the understanding that all required information needed to be disclosed was disclosed in the filings by the companies under Ensign Peak.
The Church settled the case with the SEC, resulting in a $5 million fine. Ensign Peak was charged $4 million, and the Church was charged $1 million for its involvement with Ensign Peak. Fines like these are not uncommon; according to the SEC, they were paid $6.439 billion in penalties from 760 different enforcement actions in the 2022 fiscal year.
The Church included a list of Frequently Asked Questions at the end of the statement, ensuring members that the money used to pay the settlement will come from the Church’s investment returns and, therefore, will not come from tithing paid by the members.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a large charitable organization and reports giving $906 million, almost a billion dollars, to people in need worldwide.
With the settlement with the SEC, the Church considers the matter closed, and Ensign Peak will continue to operate in compliance with the rules set forth by the SEC.
Written by: Reagan Sumrall
Senior Contributor at The Cougar Chronicle
The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run newspaper and is not affiliated with Brigham Young University or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints