Financing the Promotion of Prem Rawat
From the inception of the Divine Light Missions in Britain and America, the acquisition of funds was a prime focus of the organisations. Between 1971 and 1974 a plethora of 'new age' style business operations, all bearing the 'Divine' appellation were created and in most cases rapidly dissolved, suggesting that despite an enthusiasm for spiritual capitalism there was a certain lack of business acumen.
In contrast to the failure of the business model, fund acquisition via donation was far more successful and its management quickly attained a degree of sophistication. The culture of donation within the western Divine Light Missions drew on two distinct traditions, firstly the eastern 'altar blessing' tradition where the gift attains a spiritual significance, and secondly the western 'church plate' tradition where the gift is 'obligatory'. The conjunction of these two traditions could be seen to have provided a subtle coercion upon the devoted followers of Prem Rawat to readily commit personal funds to the organisations. It certainly is the case that despite the many commercial operations that have been connected with the Prem Rawat supporting organisations over four decades, the primary source of income to the organisations has been the personal contributions of those who believed that Prem Rawat offered something uniquely divine.
Elan Vital: A Global Operation
By the beginning of 2003 the various Elan Vital organisations that had replaced the 'national' DLMs, at one time numbering over thirty world wide had been rationalised into four primary finance handling entities: Elan Vital Incorporated [US], Elan Vital Incorporated [Australia], Elan Vital [UK] and the Elan Vital Foundation based in Switzerland. Additionally Elan Vital Inc.[US] had two subsidiary organisations, Visions International and EurCommunications. By 2010 the Elan Vital Foundation had largely been replaced by WOPG and Elan Vital Inc.[US] was in the process of being replaced by WOPI with Visions International and Eurcommunications functions being transferred to WOPG. Also in 2010 Elan Vital [UK] was renamed Human Development through Self Knowledge (HDSK).
Between the Elan Vital Foundation, a charitable trust registered in Switzerland, Elan Vital Incorporated, which was registered as a religious organisation with the IRS in the USA, Elan Vital a registered charity in the UK and Elan Vital Incorporated a 'non profit' association registered in Australia, comprised a global operation facilitating the collection and transfer of funds equivalent to many $US millions annually. It remains unclear just what religious or philanthropic benefit derived from the sums collected.
The heart of the Elan Vital financial operation was formed by the conjunction of Elan Vital Incorporated [US] and the Elan Vital Foundation, the 'religious' designation of the US organisation and the Swiss Trust status of the Foundation providing almost complete opacity preventing any realistic public assessment of the activities of this multi million dollar global corporation. The primary source of information about monetary flows between the various Elan Vital entities comes from the legal requirements for Elan Vital [UK] (HDSK) to publish its accounts. Elan Vital [UK] has been a net contributor to the world-wide operation with £11,237,675 being given to other Elan Vital's in the form of Grants between 1996 and 2008. The charitable status of the UK based Elan Vital secures it UK Government tax contributions of up to 28% of its income, an amount which exceeded £240,000 in 2005.
When a full description of the inter relatedness of the various Prem Rawat promoting organisations is taken into account, the whole process of financial transfers takes on a
decidedly odd complexion.
In the relationship between European and US organisations alone there appear to be numerous conflicts of purpose. The UK Elan Vital has transferred charitable funds by way of Grants to Elan Vital Incorporated which was a 'religious organisation' in the United States, this 'religious entity' had a 'trading subsidiary' Visions International which itself profited directly from trade with the UK Charity, while the Visions International subsidiary, Eurcomunications garnered donations from European viewers of satellite programming.
In addition to the US and UK operations there is the Australian Elan Vital Incorporated; since the early 1990s this has become a net recipient of global funds, with expenditure focused on the Amaroo project. Here again the conflation of commercial with claimed philanthropic activity is endemic. The owner of the land on which the Amaroo project is located is a private company called Myrine Investments Ltd which is registered in the Off Shore tax haven of Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. Myrine Investments Limited was registered in Australia in 1986, at which time it held the ownership of a residential property exclusively used by Prem Rawat, located at Fig TreePocket, Brisbane. The ownership of MIL shares was with some form of Trust, however Elan Vital Inc. [Aus.] subsequently stated that the shares are owned by The Prem Rawat Foundation, and that the Fig Tree Pocket property has been transferred to some other ownership.
Myrine Investments takes leasehold income on the Amaroo property from Ivory's Rock Conference Centre Pty Ltd, which is owned by Elan Vital Inc.[Aus.] via an intermediary called Jeeps Nominees Pty Ltd. IRCC Ltd is the lead organization in the Amaroo development project, and despite having no apparent assets or security had by 2003 obtained loans of over US$10 million.
The present financial situation surrounding the Amaroo project is unknown but documents supplied to authorities in Australia and the UK in 2004 suggest that at that time it was in a state of chronic negative equity.
IRCC Ltd has had its commercial activities subsidised by donated contributions running into US$ millions over many years and the finances of Elan Vital Inc[Aus] appear inextricably linked to the demand for cash support to the Amaroo development. Charitable funds from the UK totalling £705,342 have been 'granted' to EV Inc.[Aus] by Elan Vital[UK] since 1996. The main commercial income to IRCC Ltd has come from its hosting of 'international' events at which Prem Rawat has spoken, these events are facilitated by a largely 'volunteer' work force although the costs for attendance at these events exceeds $US 1,000 per visitor per four day event. In addition to the charitable funds from the UK being exposed to use for the Amaroo project, documents supplied to authorities in Australia and the UK suggest that the Elan Vital Foundation played a direct role in achieving 'contributions' from major donors to support IRCC Ltd.