The Dark Side of Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Part 11, Moon’s Banking Woes & Scam
By Samuel Blixen
October 1, 1998
The central bank of Uruguay has put Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s
financial base in South America -- Banco de Credito --
under government supervision because of management and “liquidity”
On Sept. 18, the central bank took the long-awaited move
against Moon’s bank which allegedly has been kept afloat in the past
by mysterious cash deposits carried into the country by Moon’s religious
Since much of the money arrives as cash,
authorities have had trouble determining if the money sources are legitimate
According to a bank employees union, 4,200 Moon followers
walked into the bank in 1996 and deposited a total of $80 million
into a Moon-controlled account.
Besides Banco de Credito’s red-ink problems, the central
bank stated that it was intervening to “improve the management”
of the bank.
The move, however, raises other questions about the viability
of Moon’s business and political operations in the United States,
especially the financing The Washington Times, which costs Moon an estimated
$100 million a year.
The developments in Uruguay raise the question: How can Moon
afford such losses when his chief bank in the Western Hemisphere is on the
Rev. Moon’s Bank Scam
By Samuel Blixen
Nov. 6, 1998
Rev. Sun Myung Moon's operatives stripped a leading Uruguayan
bank of nearly all its assets, prompting Uruguay's central bank to seize
control of the near-bankrupt institution in September.
Moon's organization depleted the Banco de Credito on Sept.
17, a day after Uruguay's central bank issued a warning that the Moon-controlled
bank was violating the nation's rules on liquidity -- by running massive
debts. The central bank demanded a recapitalization of Banco de Credito,
considered the country's third-leading bank and a financial base for Moon's
international empire. But instead of putting money in, Moon-connected companies
took out an additional $35 million in loans.
The move effectively left the bank devoid of assets. The
next day, Sept. 18, Uruguay's central bank intervened to seize control of
the bank's management. Uruguay's bank controller put the bank's accumulated
debt at $161 million.
In the past several years, the Banco de Credito has faced
other accusations of wrongdoing, including allegations that Moon operatives
were using it as money-laundering center. In 1996, a bank employees union
alleged that 4,200 Moon followers made cash deposits at the bank, with the
total reaching $80 million.
Because the deposits were cash, authorities could not determine
if the sources of the money were legitimate. Moon spokesmen have denied
that the organization launders drug money in South America. [For details,
see iF Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 1998]
Despite the bank's collapse, Uruguayan authorities have brought
no criminal charges against the Moon organization. Uruguay, which considers
itself the Switzerland of South America, is known for tight bank secrecy
But there could be repercussions for Moon’s status
as a major funder of right-wing political-media activities around the world,
including The Washington Times, a flagship of the U.S. conservative movement.
The strategy of "cratering" a bank is often associated
with organized crime syndicates which quietly take control of financial
institutions and siphon off their resources before leaving them as empty
After Moon's operatives left the Banco de Credito effectively
insolvent in September, members of the Uruguayan congress criticized the
central bank for granting Moon the additional time, which was used to pull
the last $35 million out of the bank.
Sen. Luis Eduardo Mallo charged that overall Moon's companies
had taken more than $125 million and had turned the bank into a "cashier
for Moon's enterprises." One Moon company, the Corporacion Rioplatense
de Hoteles S.A., was in debt $96 million.
Uruguayan authorities also learned that Moon's associates
called the shots in the last days. Congressman Jose Mujica said some bank
managers said they were forced to consult with Moon's advisors on every
decision during the last few months. In that time, only Moon's enterprises
received credits from the bank.
A bank union member, Mario Busca, also charged that Banco
de Credito had violated regulations requiring collateral for the $125 million
in loans to Moon-connected companies. "The central bank knowingly allowed
the violation of its own rules," complained Busca.
Sources from the Uruguayan congress and bank employees union
said it was unlikely that the central bank could recover the $125 million.
Noting the last-minute depletion of assets, members of a special commission
now overseeing the bank expressed doubts, too, that Moon intends to reassume
its direction in the future.
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