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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Televangelists accused of financial misconduct

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

The famed televangelists behind the Trinity Broadcasting empire are facing a $50 million lawsuit brought by their granddaughter, the company's former chief financial officer. She claims that she was fired after exposing illegal financial decisions. The suit alleges that the couple, Paul and Jan Crouch, misspent company funds on luxury mansions throughout the nation, private jets, and a mobile home for their dogs. A supporting suit has been filed by another unnamed family member.

The husband of the woman bringing the suit was accused of embezzling about $1 million from the Trinity Broadcasting Network by a debt collection agency. The agency later targeted the woman, along with two of her relatives. The woman's father, who is Paul and Jan's oldest son, resigned from the company last year. He had been the vice president and chief of staff. Experts postulate that the man's departure was attributable to the outbreak of legal action.

Despite conflicting reports, the Crouch's legal team said that the case is simple: The woman and her husband who brought the suit stole from TBN. Attorneys for the televangelists said that couple is attempting to divert attention from their crimes in order to escape punishment.

TBN is one of the most popular religious-based entertainment networks, and one of the most profitable, with the company claiming $800 million in assets in 2010. Critics have often wondered how the money is spent, but the televangelists file tax forms separately through a variety of other companies that they own and operate.

TBN has been fraught with scandal before. In 1998, a lead church official paid an accuser more than $400,000 to hide evidence about a homosexual encounter. Federal Communications Commission authorities also investigated the company as part of a five-year legal battle, during which TBN was accused of monopolizing broadcast stations.

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, "Lawsuits bring scrutiny to Trinity Broadcasting," Gillian Falccus, March 22, 2012


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