Newsweeks The publisher is suing Korean-American cleric David Jang, escalating a shareholder dispute fueled by the magazine’s coverage of a nationwide criminal investigation into Jang’s Olivet cult.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday and was first reported by religious news serviceclaims that Jang, his key disciples and the beings they control owe something news week more than 30 million dollars. Jang ordered the destruction of electronic records that would support some of those claims, the lawsuit alleges.
In addition to Jang, the lawsuit names several defendants, including IBT Media, a company that owned it news week until 2018, and Etienne Uzac, a former CEO and Chairman of news week. Johnathan Davis, co-owner of news week and the current CEO of IBT Media, is not named.
Jang did not respond to requests for comment through his website. The World Olivet Assembly did not respond either.
IBT Media offered comment on the lawsuit. “We find it disturbing that a media narrative is being created news week and Dev Pragad. We do not intend to discuss these cases in the media,” said Attorney Michael Hefter on behalf of IBT Media. “IBT will fight vigorously against it Newsweeks Claims that will prove to be unfounded.”
David Jang is described in the lawsuit as an “alter ego” of corporations and other debt-incurring businesses news week Money, citing a legal doctrine that courts have used to hold shareholders and officers personally liable for the actions of companies they control. “Although Jang does not formally own many of the companies on the network or hold official roles, he exercises authority over their operations and uses them for his personal and community gain,” the lawsuit reads.
If the New York state court allows the lawsuit to go to trial, it will shine a spotlight on the financial records of Jang and his followers while federal investigators investigate whether some members of the Olivet cult are laundering money for criminals in China and the United States.
The quarrel between Newsweeks Shareholders became public when news week CEO and President Dev Pragad, who owns half of the company, told employees in April that he had left Jang’s church. Johnathan Davis, who owns the other 50 percent, accused Pragad of arming the newsroom in a corporate fight news week reported that Department of Homeland Security agents raided the premises of Olivet University in Anza, California, as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering, visa fraud and human trafficking.
Olivet University was previously embroiled in a fraud and money laundering scandal that ended when the college, IBT Media, Etienne Uzac and other David Jang students pleaded guilty after being indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney in 2018.
Property of IBT Media news week in 2018. Shortly before the Manhattan Attorney’s Office announced indictments, Uzac sold his shares news week to Pragad in a “spin-off” transaction that made the magazine publisher an independent company.
Last week, IBT Media sued Pragad demanding his return news week, and claimed that the “spin-off” transaction was nothing more than a ploy to protect the magazine from bad press. The lawsuit accused Pragad of failing to honor a private deal in which he agreed to return his news week Shares in Uzac after legal troubles subsided.
IBT Media filed its complaint in New York state court on June 30; On the same day, the New York City Department of Education suspended operations at Olivet University in the state and accused Johnathan Davis’ wife, Tracy Davis, and other senior executives of mismanagement and a failure to clean up criminal activity following the 2018 fraud conviction.
A spokesman for Olivet University sent a statement about it Newsweeks fit. “We have nothing fundamentally to do with this matter and that is unfortunate news week CEO Dev Pragad violates long-standing Fourth Estate ideals to strengthen his legal team, and Newsweeks Reporting and editorial staff to unfairly target Olivet University and other parties in a blatant smear campaign fueled by his personal greed and a lack of facts. We plan to aggressively fight Mr Pragad’s allegations in court rather than in court.”
news week Spokeswoman Laura Goldberg issued a statement on behalf of the company. It reads in part: “In addition to claims against IBT Media for disclosure news week to tens of millions of dollars in liabilities resulting from IBT’s mismanagement — including Newsweek’s involvement in an ongoing lawsuit brought by IBT’s landlord for IBT’s failure to pay its rent —Newsweeks Complaint claims so IBT and its CEO, Johnathan Davis, intentionally destroyed over 1.8 terabytes of data, equivalent to approximately 80 million pages of text maintained on paid servers news week. In doing so, IBT attempted to conceal evidence of wrongdoing by IBT and its affiliates – despite specific instructions from news week not to destroy records because of ongoing legal proceedings. The complaint also seeks redress for IBT’s willful theft Newsweeks Trade secrets in a vain attempt by IBT to replicate Newsweeks envied success.”
The PR statement also quoted news week Attorney Robert Weigel of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher. “news week the decision to sue IBT Media was not easy. Indeed it has been for a long time Newsweeks hope that an amicable solution to the many complaints can be reached without resorting to legal action. However, IBT’s decision to file its totally baseless lawsuit stood news week no choice but to file a formal complaint against IBT – which it did on the afternoon of July 6, 2022.
“In addition to asserting claims against IBT, news week is also trying to recover from several people and organizations associated with IBT, including David Jang. David Jang was so named because he is the alter ego of IBT. As detailed in news week‘s complaint, Jang has long managed a constellation of related companies, which includes IBT for his benefit. In fact, Jang has approved an outright laundry list of wrongdoings by IBT, including repeatedly causing IBT funds to be funneled to other companies under his control at IBT’s expense news week and his rights of exemption,” adds Weigel.
While this case is running, the news week The Newsroom continues to cover the news about IBT Media, the World Olivet Assembly and Olivet University. “No one outside of the editorial board has any say in these stories,” he said news week Global Editor in Chief Nancy Cooper in a message published on the company’s website. “We have dealt rigorously with developments relating to our owners and will continue to do so. This is standard ethical practice in US newsrooms.”
The history of the various Olivet entities dates back to 2000, according to their various websites. That year, Jang founded Olivet Theological College and Seminary, later incorporated as Olivet University. Olivet Assembly USA and Olivet Assembly Europe both say they were founded in 2000 as church associations by seminary alumni. The World Olivet Assembly, which also operates out of Dover, New York, says it began that same year.
The church’s website now lists more than 120 countries where it claims to have members – but federal investigators are focusing on Olivet’s ties to China, from where the college brings many students to the United States. A former student, a pastor named JianGang “Frank” Lan, has been charged in North Carolina with possession of counterfeit goods. A North Carolina judge last week ordered Lan’s arrest after he failed to appear in court and set his bail at $1 million. Lan is in China, his lawyer said. news week exposed Lan’s ties to the Olivet Assembly before Olivet University confirmed that he had graduated from college.
That’s what three senior law enforcement officials said news week on condition of anonymity that they suspected links from the Lan case to organized crime and drug cartels in China, which are looking to China to buy the precursor chemicals needed to manufacture the powerful opioid fentanyl, which is behind a spate of deadly overdoses of drugs in the United States.
The New York City Department of Education decided to shut down operations at Olivet University in the state on May 17, a few weeks later news week reported on Homeland Security’s raid on Olivet’s California campus and at the end of a two-year investigation process.
Assistant Education Commissioner William P. Murphy wrote to Olivet on June 30, dismissing the college’s appeal of the May 17 decision. He notably cited Tracy Davis’ leadership role as a factor in preventing Olivet from re-applying for certification to operate in New York.