Plaintiffs allege that the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used false pretenses to solicit and obtain donations from LDS Church members and others for decades.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – A class action complaint was filed today against the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (COP) on behalf of current and former LDS Church members and any other donors to COP and its many purported charities, alleging the COP used dishonest tactics to secure donations only to evade their commitments to charitable causes and instead deposit the funds into its investment vehicles.
A significant amount of the donations the COP receives comes from LDS Church member tithes, or 10 percent of each member’s annual income or profits, and COP otherwise actively seeks donations for specific charitable undertakings. In the complaint, Plaintiffs reveal that they each donated a substantial sum of money – ranging from $74,000 to $164,000 —over a ten-year period. These donations were made in good faith to the COP and its promises to direct the donations to charitable causes. However, the Plaintiffs allege that these donations instead went into vast investment portfolios with the intention of keeping donations in place solely to increase COP’s wealth—not to address charitable needs as promised.
This action follows the LDS Church and its associated nonprofit’s recent settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where they paid $5 million in civil penalties for concealing a vast portion of their over $100 billion investment portfolio.
“The intent of this complaint is not just to rectify financial wrongdoings, but also to encourage change in the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ fundraising operations—ensuring they adhere to the highest levels of transparency and accountability,” said Chris Seeger, Founding Partner at Seeger Weiss LLP. “For decades, LDS Church members have been strongly encouraged to tithe 10 percent of their income or profits earned annually, and these members deserve to know how their donations are being used.”
The law firms of Seeger Weiss, Kitner Woodward, and Magleby Cataxinos & Greenwood jointly represent three current and former members in Virginia and Utah in this class action. The Plaintiffs state that their aim is not to challenge the LDS Church’s tax-exempt status or teachings, but to advocate for enhanced public transparency and accountability of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to the LDS Church, its worldwide membership surpassed 17 million people in 2023.