A $32 billion investment fund was allegedly hidden by the Mormon Church, for which it was fined

Salt Lake City, Utah's temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon Church, will make a $5 million (£4 million) payment to settle allegations that it concealed a sizable stockpile.

The LDS and its investment company, Ensign Peak Advisers, allegedly used "shell" companies to conceal a $32 billion stock portfolio.

Ensign Peak will pay a fine of $4 million, and the Church will pay $1 million.

No one has admitted doing anything wrong.

Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC's division of enforcement, said in a statement, "We allege that the LDS church's investment manager took great measures to avoid disclosing the church's investments with the knowledge of the church, depriving the commission and the investing public of accurate market information.".

The financial markets watchdog claimed that the Church and Ensign Peak had hid their rising share investments, which had exceeded $30 billion in 2018, using shell companies out of concern that they might generate bad press.

The SEC's disclosure offered a unique window into the alleged efforts of Ensign Peak to conceal a sizable portion of the Mormon Church's investments.

The regulator claimed that 13 shell companies with locations across the US were established by the Salt Lake City-based adviser, which was established by the LDS in 1997.

It also stated that between 1997 and 2019, the shell companies, not Ensign Peak, submitted quarterly investment disclosures to the SEC.

An organization with no running commercial operations is known as a shell company. These companies can be used to conceal business ownership from authorities or the general public.

In more than 30,000 congregations spread across 160 countries, the Church has more than 16 million members.

On behalf of the Mormon Church, Ensign Peak is reputed to manage a sum of at least $100 billion.

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