In the last couple of years, Universal Medicine’s bent charity operations were chastened by regulatory scrutiny. UniMed’s propaganda division continues its offensive to aggressively discredit complainants and whitewash investigation findings. UM and its bottom line might have taken a battering, but charity regulation leaves a great deal to be desired.
In 2011, the Way of the Livingness failed to gain charity status as a religion in the UK, so the UM money for nothing ‘healing’ conglomerate adopted the latent Sound Foundation Charitable Trust to conduct fundraising for its commercial premises in the UK. The College of Universal Medicine was granted tax exempt status as an educational charity in Australia in 2011. Prior to that, the Benhayons and their business associates conducted relentless fundraising drives, requesting donations were made anonymously in order to avoid record keeping and tax.
Prior to the establishment of the charities, Desiree Delaloye and Susan Scully misled donors that they would receive tax benefits for donating to the purchase and renovation of the UniMed Brisbane premises – with the property title in the names of Serge Benhayon and Susan Scully. Esoteric students were also misled into donating with the promise they would own their ‘very own building(s)‘, and according to student notes, the Benhayons shamelessly stated that those buildings would be used for UM commercial activities and events.
The College of UM property at Wollongbar is owned Serge Benhayon, who founded the College of Universal Medicine charity and appointed himself ‘Chairman in perpetuity’. That perpetuity was short lived, however, because when Joshua Robertson, then reporting for News Ltd, asked questions in 2012, Serge quit the charity and handed the chairmanship to sock-puppet and pet lawyer, Serryn O’Regan. In the meantime, the College has continued to raise funds to purchase the land and building from Universal Medicine Pty Ltd – the directors of which are Serge and Natalie Benhayon and Serryn O’Regan.
The decisions on the College of Universal Medicine according to the Universal Medicine department of ‘Facts’
The College has always held, and still holds, the necessary fundraising authority issued by the regulator controlling charitable collections in NSW, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing for the College lawfully to conduct charitable collections in accordance with its objects…The suggestion that the College does not hold an authority to conduct fundraising is an attempt by trolls to harm the College by discouraging people from making donations to the College, when the truth is that the College does hold an authority, and always has, and can show that it always has. College of Universal Medicine website
False. At the end of last year I posted that the College hadn’t reapplied for their Charitable Fundraising Authority from the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing. The statement was based on communications with the OLGR over the outcome of their investigation. However, early this year I checked the online register to find the CoUM has an authority after all. I thought the OLGR must have made a mistake in the initial communications so I called to check. The senior officer confirmed what he’d told us in the first place was correct. While the investigation was underway, the CoUM did not reapply for their authority. They waited until they investigation was completed and had not renewed at the time we spoke with the office in September.
Charles Wilson is a Brisbane commercial litigation barrister publicly calling me liar, but in two and half years UM’s legal team has not served me with a single legal notice, in spite of them consistently telling followers they had, and in spite of our efforts to harm the College by discouraging people from making donations to the College, and likewise, harming their multi million dollar scam with an exposure campaign they characterise as ‘trolling’ and ‘malicious lies’.
Sue me, Serge. Round up your subservient lawyers. We’ll subpoena the OLGR, bring the television cameras and let it all come out in court.
Past complaints by Lance Martin and Esther Rockett to the commonwealth charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and the NSW regulator, OLGR maliciously alleging that the College was not applying its funds in furtherance of its objects led to the regulators conducting comprehensive reviews of all our operations. These reviews were completed, respectively in July and September 2014, with absolutely no finding of any wrongdoing at all by the College. College of Universal Medicine website
False. We did not complain the College was not applying funds to further its objects. The charity’s advertised objects are meaningless drivel. Our complaints concerned the use of the charities as tax exempt fronts for benefiting the Benhayon commercial enterprise; Universal Medicine as a harmful organization profiting from exploiting the vulnerable; harm to beneficiaries; and that the charities do not operate to benefit the public – in contravention of charity law.
The statement there was no finding of wrongdoing is false and misleading. The regulators are aware that fundraising for the College of UM is directed to purchasing the property from Serge Benhayon/Universal Medicine Pty Ltd. At the conclusion of its investigation, the Australian Not for Profit and Charity Commission required Serge Benhayon to sign an undertaking that should the CoUM charity close, all assets would revert to charitable purposes, rather than reverting to Serge/UM Pty Ltd.
Similarly, one of the reasons stated by the UK Charity Commission The Way of the Livingness failed to gain charity status in the UK was that the dissolution clause in the organisation’s trust deed might allow the trust’s assets to be applied for non-charitable purposes.
The sham religion’s charitable objects are nearly identical to those of the sham college, however they did not satisfy the UK charity commission which also said of the Way of the Livingness:
“Even if it were not a form of theosophy, the commission is not satisfied that it falls within the definition of religion in charity law.” It says the object “to raise awareness and understanding of religious soul-full [sic] life” is not charitable… It also says the application did not demonstrate a public benefit. UK Charity Commission
Since then, the Sound Foundation was investigated and issued with a mandatory compliance plan over trustee conflicts of interest and issues of public benefit. Its charitable objects are also meaningless mumbo jumbo, but SergeCorp have learned that all it takes to satisfy the regulators is to make their activities appear legit on paper.
The public benefit test is broken
Current legislation in both Australia and the UK allows for commercial businesses and other clowns to operate as charities as long as they look legitimate on paper.
Evidence of UM charities’ dodgey activities in Australia and the UK was submitted but not investigated. I have shown they consist of marketing and promotional events for UM Pty Ltd – recruiting to the commercial cult of Serge, leasing or hiring out premises to UM and associates for greatly discounted rates, and charging beneficiaries for charity.
Our friends involved with public health activism (Reasonable Hank, Friends of Science in Medicine, StopAVN et al) will tell you the same thing. So called ‘health’ charities are selling dangerous medical misinformation, such as anti-vaccination propaganda and bogus cancer cures. Sham research foundations conduct barely any legitimate research, and struggle to account for the use of charitable funds, and there are numerous instances of anti-social menaces and scam artists embezzling tax exempt funds.
Other harmful groups, such as Christian Assemblies International, Hillsong Church and Scientology continue to operate charities, effectively receiving government subsidy to exploit and abuse members of the public.
From the OLGR complaint decision. (Our complaints are in bold.):
- The CoUM charitable activities are directed to benefiting the UM commercial business and propagating Serge Benhayon’s teachings and practises, and do not benefit the public.
The public benefit test contained within Section 6 of The Charities Act 2013 No. 100 is Federal legislation administered by the ACNC and is not a matter within jurisdiction of this Office…
- The College of UM charity is a tax exempt extension of the Universal Medicine commercial operation.
This is a matter for the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and Australian Tax Office and is outside the jurisdiction of this Office.
- The College of Universal Medicine does not pass the public benefit test due to deceptive and misleading business practises, questionable educational object via propagating anti-education and anti-social teachings, harm to beneficiaries via abusive practises and anti-social teachings, harm to the general public via misuse of federal funds, damage to other organizaitons, risks to children and families, and harassment, intimidation and defamation of critics.
As previously addressed in dot point 2, the Federal public benefit test was examined by the ACNC during their investigation into the charity with no adverse findings.
As I wrote at the end of last year, the ACNC did not publicly release or communicate to us their findings, and media reports from 2013 reveal the ACNC is dysfunctional. Senior investigators had resigned claiming management was stifling investigations of serious misconduct, including fraud. The senior investigator working on the CoUM complaint was one of those who resigned. I know he was gathering evidence and testimonies of harm to beneficiaries. He was also looking carefully at UM’s financial and business structure.
Business as usual – milking the followers
Universal Medicine’s charities continue to operate – holding events promoting UM commercial enterprises, and money for nothing courses conducted by the cult’s top level investors. Courses include Serge’s ‘Ageless Wisdom Teachings’ where he bamboozles his flock with incoherent occult nonsense; Kate Greenaway flogging more occult garbage via Esoteric Connective Tissue sham Therapy; and major investor, Susan Scully, and ex bankrupt Deborah Benhayon sharing their expertise on You And Money – Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Personal Finances. I imagine that involves persuading donors and customers to continuing throwing all their funds at a pack of vindictive charlatans.
Debby Benhayon can also vouch for how lucrative it is to get followers of her ex husband’s trance induction and molestation roadshow to work for nothing. The College’s heavy lifting is done by a legion of faith-full volunteers, while the cult’s health and legal professionals also donate their time and skills to provide more courses.
From the OLGR decision (our concerns are summarized in bold type):
The Charity’s fundraising is directed to providing or improving commercial premises for the Universal Medicine commercial business.
Departmental inquiries confirm there is a clear audit and contractual delineation between the CoUM and Universal Medicine Pty Ltd. Formal assurance documents are in place to ensure the charity maintains an ongoing equitable interest in the property.
There might be contractual delineation between the charity and the commercial arms of UM, but the Charity is effectively promoting the business, and, as pointed out by officers at the OLGR, the College contracts allow the Benhayon family to be paid by the charity with tax exempt funds, via the Universal Medicine family trust.
In other words, while bogan underachievers, Debby, Serge, Natalie and Michael get the minions to work for free, the charity’s set up allows them to get paid.
Meanwhile, the charity premises are hired out to UM commercial businesses. UM Pty Ltd, Spherical Living Ltd, Esoteric Women’s Health Pty Ltd etc. now hold workshops, retreats and other events at the charity properties, with financial reports from the Sound Foundation showing the discounts provided to the the commercial operations were generous to the point of being overt rorts.
Busted bottom line
The most recent financial statements for the Sound Foundation Charitable Trust and the College of Universal Medicine show the past financial year’s fundraising to be a fraction of what it was before the dawn of Serge’s new era of media scrutiny and accountability.
The Sound Foundation’s takings dropped from £1,203,892 in 2012, to £585,274 in 2013. (Over those two years, almost £1M was donated by trustee and chartered accountant, Michael Nicholson, whose Upper Vobster farm property benefits financially from the UM business, renting accommodation and other facilities to UM pilgrims. Nicholson also donated £300,500 in 2011.)
The ACNC website shows the College of Universal Medicine‘s rakings dropped from $473,674 in 2013, to $78,139 in 2014.
At that rate, the students won’t be buying their ‘very own building‘ from Serge Benhayon anytime soon.
I call that a win.
The UniMed cult continues to blame ‘trolls’ (me and Lance Martin) for the travails of their bent charities, and are now ten months into an intense public campaign to harass, intimidate and defame us out of our livelihoods and into silent submission. Since May last year they have published scores of webpages dedicated to that purpose alone, repeating a tired pack of lies and bloody minded distortions. The Esoteric love has also been extended to highly respected journalists, and HCCC complainant, Ira McClure. Their lynch mob behaviour has brought us new support, new media interest and confirmed to the public what a toxic, exploitative scam UniMed is.
They’ve also launched a second Sound Foundation charity in the UK – Sound Foundation Community Care. It may have been set up to fulfil Serge’s dream of establishing an aged care facility, where it will be open season for Benhayon and his professional parasites to exert undue influence on the elderly and terminally ill in order to sell more worthless UM products and harvest bequests.
The new charity’s objects are the same as the other two. It’s stated objects are to benefit:
• OTHER CHARITIES OR VOLUNTARY BODIES • THE GENERAL PUBLIC / MANKIND • MAKES GRANTS TO INDIVIDUALS • MAKES GRANTS TO ORGANISATIONS • PROVIDES BUILDINGS / FACILITIES / OPEN SPACE
Based on past behaviour, we know who will be the recipients of the ‘grants’.
The College of UM – a hostile education
The Sound Foundation charitable trust’s AMAZING generosity – recruitment drives targeting health workers
I am putting together a petition regarding the public benefit test. I will let everyone know in the next week or three where to sign it, the object and what we hope to achieve. The focus will be on that question, although Universal Medicine will be mentioned as a case in point.
Meantime, if you are interested have a look at the ACNC’s high level public benefits test: https://www.acnc.gov.au/ACNC/Register_my_charity/Who_can_register/Public_benefit/ACNC/Reg/Public_benefit.aspx?hkey=04210009-a93a-4639-9d44-023914e971ff
As you can see, it’s wide open. And they don’t consider potential harm to beneficiaries or the public, although the commissioner can ‘consider any matter’ that may affect a charities status. As I’ve noted on another blog, the ACNC is not going to set a precedent because clearly many charities are self serving.
What is required as an act of law, is a clear test if ‘sufficient public benefit’ weighed against probable or actual public detriment.
The vexing part of this calculus is that religious or other beliefs are protected either explicitly by law, or implicitly by the current overly liberal zeitgeist around belief systems. Universal Medicine are paying attention to this, and are thus claiming to be promoting ‘self-care’ (presumably admirable and therefore beneficial) while reminding everyone they are a ‘religion’, albeit not recognized as such by the ACNC or ATO, and therefore sitting nicely in that no-go zone no one wants to venture into.
My view is that a charity, religious or not, should provide a clear set of outcomes and deliver on them. There should be in their objects a business plan of what they intend to spend on these outcomes. There should be no possible benefit to members or founders, directly or indirectly. Should a charity, such as Universal Medicine, be shown to cause public harm, distrust, malcontent an investigation into public benefit using a proper test should occur.
It sounds ideal I know, but if we don’t give it a shot, who will. I’ll update more later when the petition is finished.
To the person who contacted me this morning using the Contact page, you didn’t leave an email address. Try again and leave an email addy or your phone number and I’ll get back to you.