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Canada Lawsuit Claiming $100 Million Fraud is Gospel for Asia’s Latest Legal Fight

Steve Rabey

One year after Gospel for Asia settled a $37 million case in the U.S. over misuse of funds, Canadians have filed a class action lawsuit claiming GFA misused more than $100 million in Canadian donor gifts.

Plaintiff Greg Zentner is a former GFA donor whose suspicions began after his pastor researched GFA’s finances, finding that “tens of millions were allegedly sitting in foreign bank accounts and millions more were being held in reserve funds,” according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s CBC News.

Zentner’s case says, “Thousands of well-intentioned Canadians were duped into collectively donating tens of millions of dollars to an international fundraising syndicate” that promised finds “would be used for specific charitable purposes to help the poorest of the poor in India,” but that instead funds were “for their own use, including for the construction of a luxurious compound and personal residence in Texas.”

He is asking the Canadian court to require GFA to refund the $20 million used for its American headquarters, plus $150 million in damages.

Suspicious Pastor

Bruce Morrison is pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, which raised $150,000 for GFAover 20 years but has since stopped supporting the ministry.

According to “Test of Faith,” the CBC’s 3,800-word investigation by reporter Angela MacIvor, Morrison found many problems once he started looking.

For example, GFA reported to the Canadian government that it had sent $94 million in Canadian donations to India from 2007 to 2014, but its report to the Indian for the same period showed zero transfer of Canadian funds.

MacIvor interviewed 28 former GFA staff and board members from the U.S., Canada, and India. Some of these sources said that millions of dollars intended for the poor in Asia were “missing.”

Canadian donors, who have given GFA some $9 million a year,are also upset that the ministry diverted $20 million in Canadian donations toward its $45 million American headquarters in Wills Point, Tex., a claim GFA acknowledged in the earlier U.S.lawsuit. GFA had earlier claimed the $20 was provided by an anonymous donor.

GFA long boasted of its financial efficiency, promising to send 100 percent of donations to the field, but critics say the actual amount is closer to 20 percent.

GFA’s publicist/spokesperson is Johnnie Moore of The Kairos Company, which helps organizations “sharpen their public image.” Moore says the “creative” ways GFA has met people’s needs has “been really misunderstood,” but did not deny specificclaims in the Canadian lawsuit.

Troubled Legacy

Gospel for Asia was founded in 1979, and has worked in Canada since 1980. A founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, GFA has long been accused of laxness in its bookkeeping.

GFA was booted out of ECFA following a special review of the group’s operations that found many problems, as Christianity Today reported in 2015.

According to CBC, in 2017, the Indian government banned Gospel for Asia and other non-profits from receiving foreign funds in India. GFA has also faced legal challenges in India, the UK, and New Zealand.

GFA’s $37 million U.S. settlement was its biggest defeat so far, but Moore says the claims in the U.S. lawsuit were “absolutely false,” and that GFA could have won on appeal, which it never attempted. The settlement required no admission of guilt.

In a July 2019 article on GFA’s website entitled, “Gospel for Asia’s Legal Battle Is Coming to an End,” the ministry said, “the settlement of this lawsuit does not mean Gospel for Asia is guilty. It simply means that the ministry could not continue down this patha class-action lawsuit is an enormous burden for a for-profit corporation.

GFA’s radio show, The Road to Reality,” still airs and solicits donations on many U.S. stations. Its current series, running from Feb.21-27, is entitled, “Guarding Against Evil Reports.”

 

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Steve Rabey
Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

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