Count 1: The importing of non-declared funds of least US $ 1,500,000 from overseas bank accounts by Robert Minton for the purpose to finance a civil litigation and to reimburse himself by funneling parts of these funds through the Floridian for-profit corporation "Lisa McPherson Trust" and through two foreign citizens.
Count 2: The perjury committed by Robert Minton in connection with these transactions by not disclosing them during the discovery process in two civil lawsuits.
From 1996 until March of 2002 Robert Minton expended approximately $ 10 million to financially support critics of the Church of Scientology. During court proceedings in two civil lawsuits it was revealed recently that Minton had lied during depositions about the origins of five payments of $ 1,500,000 from overseas bank accounts that he had made between 1999 and 2001 towards the attorney of the estate of Lisa McPherson, the individual Gerald Armstrong and towards the "Lisa McPherson Trust, Inc.", a corporation, which Minton had incorporated, financially supported and controlled. The "Lisa McPherson Trust" partially reimbursed him with $ 650,000 of his own money after the hidden payments from Minton's overseas accounts had been received by the organization. Minton had before falsely denied that he had issued these payments. While he admitted in the recent court hearings that he was in fact the originator of these donations, he refused to identify the financial institution from which he had these payments initiated. Invoking his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, he refused to answer every question with regards to the origins of these funds. On the same grounds Minton denied to answer the question if he had declared the money on these accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.
During the same proceedings the witness Peter Alexander stated under oath that Minton had confided to him in April of 2000 that he had not declared the earnings of a debt buy-back operation for the government of Nigeria to the Internal Revenue Service. The mentioned buy-back operation had been Minton's major business transaction shortly before his early retirement in 1993.
Minton's perjury in connection with these secret funding operations was finally discovered after almost two years of legal discovery. It had its beginnings in May of the year 2000. The legal events that followed were a reflection of Minton's constant attempts to conceal his financial transactions. On the following pages I describe how the discovery of Minton's secret funding came about.
May 3rd, 2000 - During a court hearing in the Lisa McPherson civil case ("Estate of Lisa McPherson vs. Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. et al," Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, No. 97-01235 [Exh. No. 100]) the Church of Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon moved for a renewed deposition of Robert Minton. Up to this point Minton had previously been deposed in January 1998. At the hearing Moxon argued before judge Moody as follows [Exh. No. 101]:
[ ... ] Moxon: "In the past couple of years Mr. Minton has made a number of public statements that have been revealed through other discovery which shows that he's not only a central issue, central witness to this case, but he is also central as a potential real party in interest." [ ... ]
"Robert Minton essentially controls this litigation. We believe that he is the real party in interest. Prior to trial we may be making a motion to include Robert Minton in as a real party in interest, as the person who has control of this litigation or has a deal with the plaintiff." [ ... ]
"He has provided all of the money as far as we can tell, every penny that has gone to all of the witnesses that we have indicated have been bought off and have been paid witnesses which is unlawful under Florida law and requiring disqualification of Mr. Dandar and the witnesses themselves. That is a rather important issue." [ ... ]
The Court: "What was the date of your deposition of him?"
Moxon: "January of 1998. In January 1998, of course, he had only put a hundred thousand dollars into this case. He has put in seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars since then, according to his own postings and information that he has produced or that Mr. Dandar, rather, has produced."
The Court: "I will allow you to depose Mr. Minton on matters that occurred after the date of his deposition." [ ... ]
Mr. Dandar: "Is that only in reference to Lisa McPherson and the case or is it to Mr. Minton where he travels around the world ... "
The Court: "Issues relevant to this case, payments to support this case, witnesses to this case." 17th, May 2000 - Subsequently to the court's ruling Robert Minton was subpoenaed to appear for deposition on May 24th [Exh. No. 102].
23rd, May 2000 - A day prior to the deposition the court specified the scope of the questioning through a protective order, which said [Exh. No. 103]:
" [ ... ] 3. The subject matter of the said deposition shall be limited to the witness's knowledge of payments to, pressures upon, or relevant statements of persons who are witnesses to the facts of this case or who have been identified by a party as its own expert witness, or payments to plaintiff or plaintiff's counsel. [ ... ] "
24th, May 2000 - During deposition Minton answered the questions with regards to his financing of the Lisa McPherson civil case as follows [Exh. No. 104]:
[ ... ] Moxon: "Have you given Mr. Dandar any money since January 13th, 1998?"
Q: "Tell me all the amounts that you have given him."
A: "I don't know all the amounts. The total amounts to a little over a million dollars, $ 1,050,000."
Q: "Did you make these checks to him yourself?" [ ... ]
Q: "Each check was drawn on one of you personal accounts?"
A: "I believe it was, yes."
Q: "Did you instruct anyone else to write the checks or ... "
Q: "... did you physically write them?"
A: "I think I physically wrote them all. There may have been a wire transfer in there or two. I don't remember." [ ... ]
Q: "Now the million dollars you're talking about were checks written from you directly to Mr. Dandar or his law firm, Dandar & Dandar, correct?"
Q: "Those checks were not written to a third party to give to Mr. Dandar?"
A: "No." [ ... ]
The deposition was terminated before Moxon was actually finished with his questioning, because Minton had to go on a trip to Europe. Under a stipulation tby both parties that it would be continued at a later date, the deposition was finally concluded.
October 27th, 2000 - After Minton's return from Europe, the Church of Scientology's attorney Moxon tried unsuccessfully to arrange a date for the continuation of the deposition with Minton's attorney John Merrett. Consequently he filed a motion to the court to compel Minton. In his motion Moxon stated [Exh. No. 105]:
" [ ... ] The Church further moves pursuant to Rule 1.380 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, for an order: 1) requiring non-party witness Robert Minton to appear forthwith for the resumption of his previously ordered deposition; 2) compelling Minton to respond to questions he refused to answer; and 3) to produce documents responsive to a Court-authorized subpoena. [ ... ]
"Robert Minton is putatively a third party to this action. However he is in essence the real party in interest on plaintiff's side. Mr. Minton has acknowledged that as of May 2000, he had given plaintiff's counsel the astonishing sum of $ 1,050,000 to litigate this case. Both through such direct payments, and through a for-profit corporation established by plaintiff's counsel to receive the hoped-for proceeds in this action, Minton appears to control this litigation and the witnesses hired to gave [sic] testimony on behalf of the plaintiff. [ ... ] .
November 20th, 2000 - Granting Scientology's motion, a court order issued by judge Quesada compelled Minton to appear for the continuation of his deposition on December 13th. Specifically the judge ordered [Exh. No. 106]:
" [ ... ] The deposition is a general continuation of the pending deposition previously authorized by Judge Moody. [ ... ] John Merrett, counsel to Mr. Minton, represented at the hearing of this matter that his client possessed no records responsive to the subpoena served upon Mr. Minton by the Church in may of this year. Mr. Minton is further Ordered to submit a sworn declaration to such effect to Church counsel within 10 days, which may be the subject of examination at the continuation at his deposition. [ ... ] "
December 13th, 2000 - Instead of appearing at the deposition, Minton's counsel Merrett informed Moxon that the temporary restraining order in the "Howd vs. Minton" case would make it impossible for Minton to continue the deposition because he was prohibited by the order of judge Pennick from coming within ten feet of any Scientologist [Exh. No. 107].
December 15th, 2000 - Moxon responded to the non-appearance with a renewed motion to compel Minton for deposition and a request for an order to show cause why Minton and Merrett should not be held in contempt of court [Exh. No. 108].
January 10th, 2001 - Judge Quesada issued a renewed order to compel Minton's deposition and granted a request by Moxon to seek sanctions for Minton's non-appearance on December 13th [Exh. No. 109].
June 14th, 2001 - In April of 2000 the Church of Scientology had sued the estate of Lisa McPherson and its attorney Kennan Dandar for breach of contract in connection with the 5th amended complaint in the Lisa McPherson civil suit [Exh. No. 110]. Similar as in the Lisa McPherson case, the Scientologists had focused their legal attention in the "breach of contract" case on Minton's financial contribution to the estate and his alleged control over the case. Likewise attorneys for the Church of Scientology moved to depose him.
When Minton did not appear for a scheduled deposition on March 1st, 2001, judge Douglas Baird found him in civil contempt on June 14th and ordered him to respond to a subpoena served upon him [Exh. No. 111]. A deposition was later set for August 3rd, but Minton again did not appear for his deposition.
August 15th, 2001 ? Following a motion by the Church of Scientology, Stacy Brooks, the president of the LMT and Minton's girlfriend, was deposed on this day. During the deposition Brooks revealed that the LMT had received two payments of $ 800,000 from anonymous sources in Europe. $ 650,000 of that sum had then been paid to Minton on the basis of a "loan repayment" [Exh. No. 112]:
[ ... ] Moxon: "What you've marked as Exhibit 11 are two checks to Robert Minton, one in the amount of $ 200,000 and one in the amount of $ 150,000?"
Q: "Is that a payroll to Mr. Minton?"
Q: "What is it?"
A: "It's a loan repayment."
Q: "Mr. Minton loaned $ 350,000 to the corporation?"
A: "More than that."
Q: "How much did Mr. Minton loan to the corporation?"
A: "That represents $ 650,000. The - the second piece of paper is a - it's a record - it's a bank record of a transfer to him. So the total is $ 650,000."
Q: "All right. Mr. Minton loaned $ 650,000 to LMT?"
Q: "Is Mr. Minton repaid that money out of funds that he gave to the company?"
A: "No." [ ... ]
Q: "What was the source of the funds from which the $ 600,000 was given to Mr. Minton?"
A: "The LMT received $ 300,000 from Operation Clambake, and the rest of it came from an anonymous source who I don't know who it was."
At a later point during the deposition Moxon inquired about the exact amount of the payments, about "Operation Clambake" and if a loan arrangement between the LMT and Minton actually existed:
[ ... ] Moxon: "Is there a loan agreement?"
Q: "A written loan agreement?" A: "No. It's not written."
Q: "An oral loan agreement?"
A: "Yes." [ ... ]
Q: "Are there any board minutes or any other corporate records indicating the fact of this loan or any circumstances of this loan from Mr. Minton?"
Q: "No paper whatsoever?"
A: "No." [ ... ]
Q: "How much did Operation Clambake give to LMT?"
A: "Approximately $ 300,000." [ ... ]
Q: "How much did you get from this anonymous source?"
A: "Approximately $ 500,000." [ ... ]
Q: "Who is Operation Clambake?"
A: "It's a Web site."
Q: "Do you know who controls the Web site?"
A: "A man named Andreas Heldal-Lund."
Q: "Was it Mr. Lund that transferred the $ 300,000?"
A: "I am not really sure. I just know that it came from Operation Clambake." [ ... ]
Q: "Did you ask Mr. Minton where this money came from?"
A: "No." [ ... ]
Q: "So you have some idea who made this anonymous donation?"
A: "No. I just know the type of people who are concerned to make sure that the Lisa McPherson Trust continues."
Q: "Did you ask Mr. Minton who had made these investments in the trust?"
Q: "What did he tell you?"
A: "He said that they had asked to remain anonymous and he had given them his word." [ ... ]
August 29th, 2001 - After Minton had unsuccessfully challenged at the Appeals Court the order of judge Quesada for a further deposition, Pinellas county judge Schaeffer, who was now presiding over the McPherson case, had to decide upon a motion by Moxon to compel again the appearance of Minton for a deposition. She granted the motion and a new date for the deposition was set for September 18th [Exh. No. 113].
September 12th, 2001 - At a court hearing in the "breach of contract" case judge Baird found Minton in indirect contempt of court for his failure to appear for his deposition on August 3rd. He ordered Minton to appear before the court on October 4th for the imposition of a sentence [Exh. No. 114].
Martin Ottmann <[email protected]> wrote:
> Count 1: The importing of non-declared funds of least US $ 1,500,000
> from overseas bank accounts by Robert Minton for the purpose to
> finance a civil litigation and to reimburse himself by funneling parts
> of these funds through the Floridian for-profit corporation "Lisa
> McPherson Trust" and through two foreign citizens.
So I assume you're going after the part of money laundering that deals with avoiding reporting of transactions. Maybe you can show where such a reporting would be required. I had a quick search around, and I can't find it.
> Count 2: The perjury committed by Robert Minton in connection with
> these transactions by not disclosing them during the discovery process
> in two civil lawsuits.
By the definition used in Florida law, Bob is not guilty of perjury. It's a legal term, and if you use it, you should know what "perjury" means in that state.
Don't ruin a nice piece of research about Scientology with this sillyness, Martin. It's a short step in the direction of Barbara Schwartz, and nobody should go there.
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