SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has agreed to pay $5 million to the U.S. Treasury after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) raised concerns about the church’s investment reporting in 2019.
According to the LDS Church, Ensign Peak Advisors, which oversees the church’s investments in stocks, bonds, real estate, and agricultural properties, took a different approach when reporting obligations.
The Church says they used the investments to “solely support the Church’s mission.”
Investment managers such as Ensign Peak are required by law to file forms with the SEC quarterly that publicly disclose the names of the securities and their values of a public equities’ portfolio. The LDS Church said Ensign Peak had been working with legal counsel since 2000 on how it could comply with its reporting obligations while “maintaining the privacy of the portfolio.”
Instead of filing a single aggregated file of the Church’s investments, Ensign Peak established separate companies under LLCs that each filed forms. The LDS Church and Ensign Peak said they believe that all securities required to be reported were included in the separate LLC filings.
The Church also said no one in the Church’s senior leadership prepared or filed the reports, as it was all handled by Ensign Peak.
The SEC reportedly expressed concern with how Ensign Peak was reporting the LDS Church’s portfolio in June 2019. Once the concerns were raised, Ensign Peak reportedly switched to filing a single aggregated report in accordance with SEC requirements. As of the switch, 13 quarterly reports have been filed with the SEC in full accordance.
“We affirm our commitment to comply with the law, regret mistakes made, and no consider this matter closed,” LDS Church officials said in a statement.
The LDS Church and Ensign Peak said they have worked with the SEC for years to reach the settlement and chose to reach a resolution as opposed to prolonging the issue.
The Church said it will pay the $5 million settlement using investment returns, which will be paid to the U.S. Treasury “shortly.” With the settlement reached, the Church said it considered the matter closed and Ensign Peak will continue to make investments.