October 2015, the Universal Medicine cult’s Australian charity had its Deductible Gift Recipient status cancelled by the Australian Tax Office. The College doesn’t fulfil the requirement of a charity for the advancing of education. It never did. The College’s building fund has been shut down. Cult leader, Serge Benhayon, has also been prohibited from using the charity’s funds to improve property he owns. Seeing that was the whole point of the sham, what will happen now?
Universal Medicine runs parallel charities in Australia and the UK. Since late 2013 both have been served with significant regulatory action. Both were established with donated funds to provide tax exempt business premises to Benhayon and UM. By the time the regulators caught up, Benhayon had made sure his name was on neither.
The UK’s Sound Foundation Community Care charity raised funds to construct a £2m conference facility used nearly exclusively by Universal Medicine and associated businesses for ludicrously low hire. The charity undertook no legitimate charity work, attempting instead to pass off promotions of UM as activities to benefit the public. I lodged complaints to that effect, with help from locals, with the UK Charity Commission, resulting in a mandatory compliance order in October 2013 to remedy trustee conflicts of interest and issues of public benefit. Late 2014, the charity received a whopping 20% VAT bill – £0.38m – from HM Revenue & Customs for the 2012 construction of the Sound Training Centre.
Benhayon’s stepdaughter, Simone, major donor, Michael Nicholson, and other charity trustees are likely to be liable.
The College of Universal Medicine was established in 2011, with tears of joy from Benhayon. UM followers were told it was a chance to own their own building, and the plan was to raise funds to renovate the Benhayon owned $2.3m Converys Lane industrial property into the Universal Medicine centre, and eventually purchase it from Serge. Followers were told the premises would carry out activities identical to Universal Medicine Pty Ltd’s commercial activities – workshops, courses, concerts, sermons and healing services. They were also told of a plan to establish an Esoteric aged care facility. Most likely to facilitate the harvesting of bequests.
Benhayon appointed himself charity Chairman for life, but quit as director after News Ltd questioned him a year later. Benhayon’s lawyer and Universal Medicine Pty Ltd and Esoteric Womens Health Pty Ltd company director, Serryn O’Regan, took his place as chairman. The charity’s other directors are daughter, Natalie Benhayon, Brisbane commercial litigation barrister, Charles Wilson, propagandist and ‘true expression’ commander, Alison Greig, financial advisor and Benhayon’s business partner in UniMed Brisbane Pty Ltd, Susan Scully, Benhayon’s personal assistant, Desiree Delaloye, Esoteric dog whisperer, Deb McBride, and Anne McRitchie.
Complaints were made to the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) in 2013 that the charity was a sham operating to the detriment of the public, and to commercially benefit Benhayon & co.
Benefiting Benhayon business
The Fiery Building Fund 2013 publicity did not distinguish between the charity and the business, referring to the College premises as the ‘the Universal Medicine Centre’ for ‘UniMed events’.
By October 2013, the College directors had learned the charity was under investigation and the wording was changed.
Pseudo-religious blurbs and incriminating photos were also hastily cut from the site (see below).
Mid 2014 we also submitted complaints to NSW Office of Liquor Gaming & Racing (OLGR), which issues state fundraising licences, however they were unable to act because the substance of our complaints was not within their remit.
In 2014, the Fiery Building Fund was shut down. Later that year, officers from the OLGR, told us the ACNC required Benhayon to sign an undertaking he wouldn’t profit from the dissolution of the charity. In other words, he was prohibited by the Commission from using the charity funds to renovate his Converys Lane building.
Last year, further complaints were made to the Australian Tax Office, and in October 2015, the charity lost its deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, meaning donations to the scam are no longer tax deductible.
At June 30, 2015, the charity held almost $800k in assets – in cash.
Lies by omission
The DGR endorsement showed on the ABR website until recently as being in place from 2011 until October 2015. Suffice to say the charity’s erased publicity mentions the DGR, and the current ABR page states it’s not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. I was aware of this development for some months before February when I tweeted to charity director, Alison Greig, who many readers will know as an author of the bonkers, defamatory UM *Facts* site.
@AlisonGreig36 You’re director of College of Universal Medicine charity? Correct? Why did the tax office cancel it’s DGR status?
— Esther Rockett (@EstherRockett) February 12, 2016
My defence was filed February 29, but I didn’t get a response.
In March, I blogged about the DGR cancellation, and tweeted to her again.
— Esther Rockett (@EstherRockett) March 10, 2016
It took the propaganda committee a few days and a few Tweets to scramble together this spray.
— Alison Greig (@AlisonGreig36) March 15, 2016
— Alison Greig (@AlisonGreig36) March 16, 2016
Inept damage control
Alison linked to the College website, and a hastily composed update claiming the College had surrendered the DGR voluntarily. I know it was hastily composed because it wasn’t there a few days before. Google cache shows the page had changed after early March. Five months after the DGR was canned.
Her update confirmed what we had complained about in the first place. It was never an authentic charity for advancing education. The College’s statement admits it couldn’t fulfil the requirements, and never intended to.
Voluntary Revocation of the DGR
On 2 October 2015 the College requested that the ATO revoke the College’s deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsement as a school building fund, after it became clear that the DGR regime was no longer a good fit for the College. The ATO at our request revoked the endorsement with effect from 2 October 2015.
The College made this decision as the ATO had been moving towards an increasingly restrictive approach to the DGR regime, in particular developing the view that in order for organisations to fit within the regime, their school activities would need to resemble a registered training organisation, with pathways of learning, graded assessments and externally recognised qualifications at completion of a course of study, none of which was ever the intention of the school building regime or the College’s objects which were to always be an adjunct to vocational and further education, never subsumed by it. CoUM site
From the same mob hawking bogus practitioner ‘accreditation‘.
I strongly suspect the first Alison and other charity directors heard of it was from me. Whether they knew or not, the charity had not informed donors of the cancellation, and had not informed them Converys Lane was very unlikely to become the College premises. Both are significant developments of interest to the donors, who were told they would be donating to fund their own building, and had contributed over $800k. A number of followers also donate time to cleaning and maintaining Converys Lane and other Benhayon owned properties, and supplying and delivering the College’s ‘curriculum’.
That’s how much contempt Benhayon and sock puppet charity directors, Serryn O’Regan and Natalie Benhayon have for the faithful community that’s made the Benhayons obscenely wealthy. And for their loyal headkicker, Alison Greig. They appointed Greig as director of a bent charity, and spokesperson for a scam enterprise and didn’t tell her the charities had been hit with regulatory action. If she did know, she had no excuse for not informing the ‘student body’. Particularly when she’s the main writer on the UM *Facts* website, putting her name to false and defamatory slurs against me and other complainants. One of those being that we’ve lodged ‘baseless’ and ‘vexatious’ official complaints, we’ve broken the law in doing so, and there’s been ‘no wrongdoing found’.
Given how many times that’s been proven false, we can reliably conclude Benhayon, Greig and associates have no credibility in anything they say. All of which paints a Glorious picture for the court at the upcoming Benhayon v Rockett trial.
The following was published in February this year. By then four significant regulatory actions had been taken against the charities alone.
Advancing education in the ‘Ageless Wisdom’
Accounts for the College of UM are available online. The charity does no authentic charitable work for public benefit. Its current curriculum consists of underhanded promotions of UM Pty Ltd’s commercial products, services, agendas and associates. Its main sources of income for the year to June 30 2015 was $27,914 from courses delivered by the cult’s hierarchy of professionals. Benhayon’s ‘Living Sutras of the Hierarchy’ presentations brought in $59,500.
I’ve blogged a collection of quotes from Benhayon’s self published Living Sutras of the Hierarchy book and ‘Ageless Wisdom showing the occult pseudoscience and other balderdash that constitutes those ‘teachings’ for the charitable purpose of ‘Advancing Education’. It’s 100% bizarre mumbo jumbo he claims to have channelled from the ‘Ascended Masters’ that includes bogus claims about health and medicine that are potentially harmful. Benhayon’s teachings are also anti-intellect, anti-education, and evolution denying. Some of those will be aired in court.
The fact the ACNC approved the College as a charity for ‘advancing education’, and allows its continued operation, is scandalous. But it could have been worse. UM were angling to be recognised as a religion for charity status, which would have meant less reporting requirements. They failed in the UK, and it appears their bid failed in Australia too.
Interestingly, Benhayon no longer volunteers his Living Sutras content. Those courses ceased at the end of 2015. Presumably because he can no longer indirectly benefit from the funds raised.
McIntyre gift and bequest
The McIntyre will case is another factor demonstrating the original purpose of the charity was to benefit Benhayon.
December 2015, the McIntyre family lost their bid to contest the will of Judith McIntyre, a client of Benhayon’s who had passed away from breast cancer in June 2014. Serge Benhayon benefited by over $500k from her will and personally received an $800k gift before she died. Her two children, both of whom have dependents, inherited $250k each.
Charity chairperson, Serryn O’Regan, was the executor of Ms McIntyre’s will. The JP who witnessed the will was Benhayon’s personal assistant, business partner and charity director, Desiree Delaloye. In her final weeks, Ms McIntyre was surrounded by UM volunteer carers.
One wonders if she would have received as much attention if she had no wealth to prey on.
The McIntyre family have told me Judith stated it was her intention to leave the gifts to the charity. They were surprised when they learned she’d left the money to Benhayon instead. A witness at the hearing also stated Judith intended the money to be used for a teaching hall, like the one owned by the UK charity, where Benhayon could teach his ‘Ageless Wisdom’. The original publicity explicitly stated the Converys Lane building would become ‘the Universal Medicine centre’ for ‘UniMed events’. Those are the commercial activities of Universal Medicine Pty Ltd, of which Serge Benhayon is the sole shareholder. Yet, Benhayon himself testified that he has nothing to do with the running of the charity, the College was ‘a call from the students’, and he merely volunteers his time.
He didn’t mention he and his minders told the students to make the call. Repeatedly.
Ms McIntyre is pictured in this Fiery Building Fund promo pic that was hurriedly removed from the site late 2013 when the charity directors found out it was under investigation. Benhayon was apparently volunteering his time to run fundraising tours of the building he owns.
The charity was under investigation when Ms McIntyre made her final will. If she’d done as she’d originally intended, Benhayon wouldn’t have been able to use her money. It makes sense he and the charity’s directors persuaded her to leave the money to him, and it indicates the charitable funds were originally intended to benefit his commercial business.
To add insult to injury, after misleading the court, and succeeding in retaining the entire bequest, Benhayon wasted no time in commencing construction of a new $1m+ house on acreage, to add to his personal property portfolio that we now estimate to be worth at least $10m, plus holdings that could be several times that.
What now ?
The claimed purpose of advancing education is a cynical fraud that didn’t get past the Tax Office. Like the UK charity, the College’s alleged charitable activities are promotions of the UM commercial business.
Currently, 37 Converys Lane is a $2.3m building owned by Benhayon used nearly exclusively for UM Pty Ltd commercial events. Although it was designated as the College’s building, most so called courses are conducted online or offsite. The building fund was shut down and the ACNC actions have effectively ensured the premises will never become the College building.
Donors heard of these developments first from me.
The College is not operating to advance education, so what is its charitable purpose?
The charity no longer performs any of the activities originally promised to donors.
It holds nearly $800,000 in donated funds. Will the ‘student body’ ever have their ‘very own building’ as initially promised?
Most importantly, how will those funds be used for genuine public benefit?