Recent financial filings with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) paint a worrying financial picture for Scientology’s UK operations. Operating through an Australian-registered entity known as COSRECI (Church of Scientology Religious Education College, Inc), Scientology are required to file annual accounts that detail where its money comes from and – crucially – where it is spent.
Filed on 30th June 2023, Scientology’s most recent UK accounts cover its activities from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 and reveal a total gross revenue of $26.5 million Australian Dollars ($17.5 million USD or £13.7 million GBP), but debts of more than 5x their annual turnover at $143.78 million AUD ($94.7 million US Dollars or £74.3 million GBP)
As illustrated by this graph, the total liabilities reported by Scientology are increasing year-on-year, almost doubling from $53.7 million USD (£42 million GBP) in 2016 to $99.2 million USD (£78.2 million GBP) in 2022.
International transfers of wealth
The report reveals how Scientology moves money internationally between its various entities operating most notably in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. As of 31st December 2022, COSRECI owed the US-registered Church of Scientology International (CSI) $71 million USD (£55.6 million GBP) in loans, and was charged annual interest of $1.27 million USD (£996,000 GBP) by the mother church.
There was also a loan outstanding from the US-based Scientology International Reserves Trust (SIRT) for $7.71 million USD (£6 million GBP), on which COSRECI is also being charged 5% annual interest.
Church of Scientology Celebrity Center International, based at 5930 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, California had also loaned COSRECI funds, with $1.66 million USD (£1.33 million) owed as of December 2022 as part of a ten-year repayment agreement.
The interest charged on its loans means Scientology management organisations such as CSI, SIRT and Celebrity Center benefit financially from lending money to it’s UK branch. Is Scientology the United States’ first tax-exempt private bank?
Charges for ‘Ecclesiastical Management Services’
In addition to the loans from international management, Scientology’s UK arm was charged $1 million USD (£785,000 GBP) for ‘courses provided to COSRECI’ by the Clearwater, FL based Flag Service Organization. This would likely be for the currently underway ‘Golden Age of Admin‘, where executives from Orgs across the globe are sent to Flag to train on updated policies – as they did with the ‘Golden Age of Tech’ in 1996, and ‘Golden Age of Tech II’ in 2013.
COSRECI was also charged $1.64 million USD (£1.29 million GBP) for ‘ecclesiastical management services’ by the Church of Scientology International.
Perhaps most worryingly, COSRECI leases property in the UK from a private firm, Nesta Investments Limited, whose director is Scientology’s UK head of OSA, Graeme Wilson. The accounts show COSRECI was charged $442,338 USD (£346,962 GBP) in rental payments in 2022. As the director of the for-profit company, Wilson is therefore in a position where he could be personally benefitting financially from his employer’s relationship with his company. As an executive and member of Scientology’s ‘Sea Organization’, this raises the question as to whether this presents a conflict of interest from which Australian and UK taxpayers may be falling short.
Loans to European Orgs
Despite borrowing vast quantities of money from it’s mother Church, COSRECI itself has loaned money to other Scientology organisations across the globe. Almost $1 million USD was due from the Church of Scientology and Community Centre of Dublin, Church of Scientology of Munich and New Era Publications International, Scientology’s Denmark-based publishing and distribution centre.
The large amounts of money being moved between these international corporations poses an opportunity for Scientology to take advantage of fluctuating currency conversion rates, differing tax laws by country and raises the question as to whether the UK, Australian and US tax offices are doing their due diligence on monitoring such large transactions.
Despite operating solely in the United Kingdom, COSRECI is an Australian-registered charitable organisation meaning both UK and Australian citizens shoulder the burden of these questionable activities.
You can download the Church’s 2022 financial report on the ACNC website, or view within your browser below.