Scientology Money in a Mormon Bank: More of the Secret Relationship Exposed

Tony Ortega today posted a most interesting article on Efrem Logreira, the 75 year old man whom the Church of Scientology clipped for $75,000 in a credit card scheme. Scientology wants to return the $75,000 to Logreira as this scam has blown up in its face. However, Mr. Logreira has been paying crippling amounts of monthly interest on the balance on the cards and therefore demands to recover interest in order to be made whole on the entire amount. Scientology does not appear interested in making Logreira whole and wants to pay only the balance on the credit cards less interest.

As we learn in Ortega’s story, Scientology’s long-time attorney Mr. Moxon presented Mr. Logreira’s counsel Graham Berry with the check shown above. This is where the Scientology Money Project is extremely interested as the check posted by Tony Ortega shows the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles Claims Verification Board to have its account with the California Bank & Trust Los Angeles Metro Branch.

California Bank & Trust Los Angeles Metro Branch is a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation, one of America’s largest banks. Founded in 1873 by Mormon leader Brigham Young, the Mormon church once owned a majority interest in Zions Bank. Even after selling its interest, CEO Harris Henry Simmons is a Mormon as are many of Zions’ employees. Several Zions employees also hold political office in Utah.

Zions is a powerful bank with deep connections to the LDS Church and, now it appears, financial ties to the Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology has long had a not-so-secret backchannel relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and now we see one more element of the relationship. In a second check Ortega posted today, we see a check from Scientology’s Continental Liaison Office (CLO).  The account is held in same Los Angeles Metro branch of California Bank & Trust. 


A MORMON OFFICIAL DEFENDS SCIENTOLOGY

Jean Huysmans, Public Affairs Committee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, publicly spoke on behalf of Scientology in a video produced by the Church of Scientology. In this video, praises L. Ron Hubbard and attacks psychiatric drugs. The presumption here is that Huysmans was fully authorized to do this video by the First Presidency in Salt Lake City.


SCANDALS

Zions Bancorporation is not without its scandals. In 2011, the bank was fined $8 million dollars for violating US laws related to anti-money laundering and bank secrecy laws. FinCen cited 132 suspicious offshore wire transfers into Zions offshore entities totaling $12.3 billion. Zions was fined $8 million. As we read in the Assessment of Civil Money Penalty issued by the US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network:

FinCEN has determined that Zions violated the BSA requirements: to establish and
implement an effective anti-money laundering (“AML”) program with respect to its casas de cambio (“CDC”) and foreign correspondent customers’ account relationships; timely file Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”); and comply with the foreign correspondent account regulation(s).

Zions’ foreign correspondent business was initially handled by its Financial Institutions Group (“FIG”), and focused on Mexico and countries within Latin America. In January 2007, the Bank restructured its correspondent banking from FIG to an International Correspondent Banking Group (“ICB”). At its height, the Bank had 54 foreign correspondent relationships that included 19 CDC accounts, 4 casas de bolsa (securities firms), 15 foreign banks-primarily from Latin America-and 3 foreign corporation customers. The services provided by the Bank to these customers included wire transfers, Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) transactions, cash letter activity processed through remote deposit capture (“RDC”) technology, and deposits.
The Bank provided wire transfers, ACH transactions, deposits, RDC services and imaging for processing cash letter instruments to its foreign correspondent customers. The Bank launched its RDC product in January 2005 and realized a significant increase in activity involving its correspondent accounts in 2006 and 2007. In 2005, the volume of transactions using RDC exceeded hundreds of millions of dollars, and continued to increase into the billions of dollars in 2007.

Zions failed to implement an effective AML program for its foreign correspondent business reasonably designed to identify and timely report transactions that exhibited indicia of money laundering or other suspicious activity, considering the types of products and services offered by the Bank, the volume and scope of its business, and the nature of its customers. Zions failed to implement a program tailored to the risks inherent within its foreign correspondent business lines and geographical reach. As a result, Zions failed to timely file SARs representing billions of dollars in suspicious transactions, thus greatly diminishing the potential utility of such reports to both law
enforcement and regulatory agencies…

Internal Policies, Procedures, and Controls

Zions failed to implement an effective system of internal controls reasonably
designed to ensure compliance with the BSA and manage the risks of money laundering, in its CDC and foreign correspondent customers’ accounts. Zions lacked adequate written policies, procedures and controls reasonably designed to assess the risks of money laundering and ensure the detection and reporting of suspicious transactions with respect to its CDC and foreign correspondent customers’ accounts.


Zions Bancorporation — Assessment of Civil Money Penalty

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ZionsAssessment

6 comments

  1. Aha! I knew it. When I heard the Mormon church has $32 billion in stocks, I wondered what they are saving it for. (Aren’t there enough hungry and/or naked widows and/or orphans?) I thought, are they saving it to buy a spaceship like the scientologists? This news suggest it could be so. Perhaps they are building it together…?

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