Director of Mission Organization Found Embezzling Millions of Dollars

It is always sad when an effective mission organization finds itself deeply involved in a scandal on the mission field. This was the case last year with a mission organization that BTJ has been working with in Afghanistan and Iran.

“Sadly, it was discovered that the primary leader had embezzled millions of dollars,” said one of the former employees with intimate knowledge of the situation. Our source has asked to remain anonymous, but what he has reported has been independently verified through financial records and investigative reports posted online.

Financial records show the organization grew from less than $1 million in 2019 to more than $9 million in donations in 2021. The ministry was founded in 2011 and focused much of their work on Iran and Afghanistan. In 2018, the founder needed a business visa, which BTJ provided as a part of the support of their work. In the same year, BTJ sent funding to pay for a security detail of a missionary medical doctor that almost died during an attempted assassination in a market in Kabul.

“There is no record of anyone actually receiving the funding,” our source reported in a private meeting this week. “There were many mission organizations sending support for projects that were not actually being supported.”

Due to the underground nature of the work in Iran, it is not unusual for transactions to take place without a lot of official documentation, that is why trust is essential among missionaries in closed countries. Ministries that work in closed countries need to continually strive to find ways to be transparent, even if they cannot do so through the legal route.

Our partnership with the organization ended before the scandal was discovered. In 2018, a special joint mission project with BTJ hackers involved a project to develop a secure communications network. “That project,” our source reported, “had a $1 million dollar price tag and the official cost for the project was no where near that much.”

The staggering price tag caused our team at BTJ to be suspicious and we pulled out of the project, but it leaves the question, how can ministries and individuals maintain financial accountability in closed countries when much of the work is illegal?

There are many ways to maintain financial accountability, even when illegal activities require clandestine accounting, but five key things BTJ has found to be beneficial are:

  • Select key board members who already invest in the ministry and represent supporters
  • Hold face-to-face board meetings at least two times a year to review all financial reports
  • Engage independent third party accountants to handle 100% of all income and expenses
  • Do not allow the acceptance of personal donations outside of ministry accounts
  • Perform annual third party audits

This is not an exhaustive list, but are a few things that ministries in closed nations can adopt to maintain accountability to themselves and those that they serve.

The ministry is now under new leadership and is still supporting efforts to preach the Gospel message in both Iran and Afghanistan. Our prayers are with them as they continue to serve the most unreached people groups on the planet.

Dr. Eugene Bach is a known trouble-maker with an active imagination and sinful past. He has a PhD, but is not a real doctor, so please do not call for him during a medical emergency on an airplane when someone is having a heart attack. Eugene started working for Back to Jerusalem in the year 2000 after a backroom deal involving Chinese spies, the NRA, Swiss bankers, and a small group of Apostolic Christians that only baptize in Jesus’ name. He spends most of his time in closed countries attempting to topple governments by proclaiming the name of Jesus and not taking showers. From time-to-time he pretends to be a writer. He is not good at it, but everyone around him tries to humor him.

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