Fraud allegations fuel scandal at Christian Post and Christian Today
Evangelical news websites, Christian Post and Christian Today face embarrassment and scandal after two leading chief executives were arraigned this month in New York on charges of fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and falsifying business documents.
William C. Anderson, formerly CEO of Christian Media Corporation (CMCI) responsible for Christian Post and Christian Today, and Etienne Uzac, CEO of IBT Media (International Business Times and until recently Newsweek) have been caught up in a long-running investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The claim is that the two companies committed fraud by securing millions of dollars in loans to purchase high end servers. The companies bought cheaper servers and the money was spent differently including $1.5 million to CMCI to make up for deficits. Both executives strenuously deny the charges.
Christian Post calls itself the No. 1 Christian website in the world. The British website, Christian Today, which was for several years was regarded as influential was previously edited by Ruth Mawhinney, now working for the Archbishop of Canterbury and then the leading religion writer, Ruth Gledhill.
Earlier this year Christian Today laid off most of its staff. Current editor, Mark Woods refused to answer questions about connections between Christian Today and the fraud allegations. Christian Today is now listed as a micro-company at Companies House in the UK meaning that it has less than £10,000 turnover. This leaves unanswered questions over how it can afford to employ any staff at all in the UK.
Other allegations involving the two companies, CMCI and IBT include an advertising fraud scheme and illegal traffic boosting which are also being investigated by US authorities. These alleged frauds may have involved the Christian publishing sites in addition to Newsweek.
Andrew Clark, the new Chief Executive of CMCI (formerly Chief Operating Officer of the World Evangelical Alliance) said that the company “denies the charges brought by the Manhattan DA’s office.” He said he expected that CMCI would be “exonerated”. Mr Clark is listed in Britain as the only company director of the British website, Christian Today.
The long-standing US evangelical publication, Christianity Today has vigorously investigated connections between its newer rival CMCI and IBT media and the controversial Korean Pastor, David Jang. Mr Jang who founded the US Olivet University, is considered by some of his followers to be the second coming of Christ. Reports claim that these organisations are part of his wider network.
William Anderson, the former Chief Executive of CMCI was formerly a trustee at Olivet. Andrew Clark, the current CEO of CMCI registered IBT media offices and Olivet’s campus in the UK according to reports.