South Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church International [UCI] and the Securities and Exchange Commission agreed yesterday to a compromise settlement of the regulatory agency's recent charges that the church group violated antifraud provisions of federal law.
In a case that involves an alleged UCI "scheme" to obtain undisclosed control over Diplomat National Bank here, the church organization signed a consent, agreement. Without admitting or denying SEC allegations, UCI said it would not violate federal securities laws in the future.
UCI is a non-profit Washington corporation started in 1977 to coordinate all activities of Moon's church. The D.C. firm is not tax-exempt and is distinct from the purely religious church organization founded in 1961 in California.
In yesterday's consent agreement, approved by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Flannery, the scope of the Sec's requested injunction on UCI activities was reduced substantially.
UCI agreed simply that it would not violate federal securities laws regarding Diplomat Bank stock transactions. Specifically, the church group said it would not obtain money or property "by means of untrue statements of material facts or omissions," in Diplomat stock transactions.
Deleted from the permanent injunction was the Sec's demand that stock or securities of entities other than Diplomat Bank be included in Uci's agreement not to violate federal laws.
Unification Church officials had lodged a lawsuit challenging the SEC action and UCI President Pak Bo Hi, a chief aide to Moon, said yesterday that testimony from several SEC officials was to be given in depositions starting this week -- a hint the regulatory agency settled now to prevent such testimony.
In the settlement, Pak said, UCI agreed to forego taking testimony from SEC officials. "It is certainly not the desire of UCI to cause the SEC to spend further public monies to pursue or defend this case," Pak added."We are, therefore, pleased to have come to an agreement which has settled the matter with the SEC out of court."
Paul Leonard, head of the Sec's regional office in Rosslyn, which filed the complaint against UCI, could not be contacted last night to comment on Pak's version.
Diplomat was chartered in 1975 to serve a growing Asian-American community and has been suffering from financial problems. According to government allegations, Moon's church and South Korean agents secretly owned half of the bank's stock.