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Why is Scientology sending so much money to places like Australia and the British Isles?

[Illustration from Ben Schneider’s investigation in The Age]

 
We’ve told you over the years that in some countries Scientology can’t be as secretive with its finances as it is here in the US. Places like Ireland, England, and Australia require Scientology to open the books.

Now, Ben Schneiders at The Age has taken a detailed look at how Scientology has shifted large amounts of money from the US to Australia in recent years.

Schneiders found that although Scientology is down to only about 1,700 members in that country of 25 million people, it made a net profit of $65.4 million between 2013 and 2019. And as Bryan Seymour pointed out years ago, Scientology in the UK uses an Australian address in order to avoid paying taxes there. Schneider confirms that and says that Scientology has some $150 million in assets in the UK.

In previous stories, we’ve talked about how Scientology has also invested heavily in Ireland, where the most recent census recorded only 87 Scientologists. But even with almost no members there, Scientology has spent millions on new buildings.

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When Schneiders contacted us a few weeks ago asking why Scientology was sending so much money overseas, we made sure he understood that for a couple of decades now church leader David Miscavige has been on a building frenzy in Australia, in the US, and in many other places, even as membership has been dwindling.

Miscavige can’t show expansion in membership, so he tries to make up for it with new buildings, all in order to impress his big donors and convince them that Scientology is thriving.

And it’s working. In our regular updates about what the major donors are forking over, we’re seeing more and more $1 million-plus donations, even as the orgs appear to have fewer and fewer customers.

Miscavige’s ability to convince wealthy Scientologists to part with such huge amounts is simply astounding.

In Australia in particular, a lot of that spending can be explained by Miscavige’s desire to build a new “Advanced Org” there, something he’s also been doing in other parts of the world.

Scientologists can go to their local “Ideal Org” to get a certain amount of progress up Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom,” but at some point if they want to keep progressing they have to go to an Advanced Org, which are located in Sydney, Los Angeles, Florida, England, Copenhagen, and South Africa, with more planned for Canada and Mexico. Then, if they want to reach the highest levels, they have to go to the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, which is Scientology’s true moneymaker. And then the culminating experience, “OT8,” can only be experienced on Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds, which has been docked in Aruba for a full year now because of the pandemic.

Paul Burkhart was the last high-ranking Sea Org executive to defect from Scientology’s upper management, in 2013. And he confirms that when he left, Miscavige had put a big emphasis on building or upgrading Advanced Orgs around the world as a show of “expansion.”

Even while I was there, the church had a heavy push for every Advanced Org to be renovated or a new building bought. The AO’s (one for each continent — AOLA, AOSH UK, AO Canada, AO Latam, AOSH EU, AOSH AFRICA, AOSH ANZO, and Asia) are all Sea Org staffed and centrally owned. Fundraising for these Advanced Orgs would partially come from the whales. There was a big push at events with announcements of the building purchases and flythru videos of the AO building designs. Whales will contribute a lot more for a Continental Advanced Org than an individual church in Durban, etc. Also an AO makes lots more income and sends more to central management than any individual org. There was probably some tax reasons as well to spend some assets on ‘church activities’ instead of just amassing it all in cash. As far as dwindling membership goes, management, staff and public would never agree with that fact, even if shown the numbers. All the events claim massive expansion everywhere!

In the case of Australia, Scientology’s new Advanced Org was located in a massive former national acoustics lab in a suburb north of the city. When it was planning the $50 million project, Scientology admitted to the New South Wales government that only a tiny number of people were actually going to be using it. An environmental impact report we got our hands on showed that Scientology said the massive facility would only be serving about 87 people on a given day. (And even that was probably an inflated exaggeration.)

Small membership and large assets adds up to a pretty wild ratio. In 2019, when it was revealed that the Mormon church had an astounding $100 billion socked away in a secret account, that worked out to about $6,667 per member in an organization with a population of 15 million. We estimated that Scientology has closer to $3 billion, but with only about 20,000 members around the world, that results in a mindblowing ratio of about $150,000 in assets per member, we reckoned.

Schneiders came to a similar conclusion in his excellent piece.

Scientology has built up enormous wealth in a relatively short time. An analysis by The Age and the Herald shows Scientology’s assets in Australia are worth $102,535 per adherent. By comparison, a 2018 Age investigation estimated all the entities related to the Catholic Church in Australia had wealth of about $30 billion, equating to an average $5,600 per Catholic in Australia.

So once again, we learn that Scientology is amazingly effective at getting huge amounts of money out of people, then it pays no taxes and pays its workers pennies an hour, and so it is able to amass huge piles of wealth. And unlike other entities that call themselves churches, Scientology does nothing to help the larger community, and we know it spends a lot of that money on hiring attorneys and private investigators so it can surveil its enemies and pursue expensive litigation.

When are governments going to take a stand?

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Source Code

“OK, and this is the 1st of April 1954, little more on simple procedures, basics. The problem which the auditor faces is a very simple problem. That’s what makes it so difficult. He has a human being who is out of present time. Ordinarily this is the target of the auditor, although you can use auditing on cats, dogs and horses, and so forth. As a matter of fact, I was auditing a horse the other day. Got him into present time, too. It’s very easy to audit a horse. All you make him do is reach for you and you retreat until he feels good and dangerous. And his spirits will come up and he’ll be in present time enough to be rid.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 1, 1954

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“OVERTS: In the interests of more truth on board, anyone feeling nattery should write up their overts and witholds and post them on the crew’s notice board with a copy to me. Hiding the real reasons behind natter roughs it up for the rest of us. We are after all a true group. Truth is the basis of group ARC.” — The Commodore, April 1, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I don’t know if the movement started by Bill Robertson could be considered to be a reform. The original tech and admin of LRH is preserved, but some modificaton was done to the OT levels and they were expanded beyond OT VIII. This is the most high-toned ‘reform.’ The Bill Robertson bridge is an example of a positive alternative. In fact Capt. Bill Robertson states in a video that the Ron’s Org is an alternative path for when the government SPs block Scientology for the people and reserve it for the rich few. With the IRS inside OSA, and Chairman of the Board David Miscavige in charge of the GAT inquisition, it is more than clear that the OT levels have been blocked. Then there is the most extreme reform ever. Which in a sense is a kind of bypass. Sky Bunny has posted that he comes from the future, where Scientology tech has been developed to levels where it is now possible to create new games. In these new games the flubs of a reactive mind have been avoided and a new game is being created now. So, in this case, it doesn’t matter what happens to this universe and game. A new one using Scientology tech is being started. This one being notified to take advantage of that reform. And this with the ‘authority’ of Maitreya.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1998: Grady Ward posted an update on his copyright violation lawsuit this week. “Just returned from a settlement conference in front of Chief Magistrate Judge Edward A. Infante of the Northern District of California. After three hours of negotiation in front of the Judge the negotiations broke down. The Judge was visibly angry as he left us. So, we are definitely going to trial. Although the current date is April 13, 1998 that will almost certainly change since the Hon. Ronald M. Whyte has asked to hold another pretrial conference and we are working on the joint pretrial statement which must be finished before the conference is scheduled. Depositions of various witnesses are going ahead in spite of the trial date flux. The cult is officially asking for $9,900,000 in damages plus what is likely to be over $2,000,000 in attorney’s fees and costs of probably several hundred thousand dollars. My neighborhood was mailed yet another dead-agent attack upon me and my family. It’s hard to get a copy when the neighbors throw it away in disgust thinking ‘those Scientologists are pretty sick folk, aren’t they?'”

 
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Random Howdy

“Better to be pissed off than pissed on.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Discovery hearing on April 20, prelim set for May 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to April 13.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Charged in Brooklyn federal court on Feb 4. Arraigned on Feb 9. Pretrial conference set for Apr 29.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. June 7: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.

 
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SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientologists are convinced that they can rescue the planet from deadly pandemic
[TWO years ago] Sword-wielding, Bentley-driving man killed by police at Scientology org identified
[THREE years ago] Scientologists are trying to convince each other that the new TV network is a roaring success
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s spies: L. Ron Hubbard’s twisted legacy that proved his sickness
[FIVE years ago] Augustine: One weird trick every Scientologist needs to learn for real ‘total freedom’
[SIX years ago] CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST SCIENTOLOGY DRUG REHABS IN CALIFORNIA
[SEVEN years ago] Hey, you guys, the new Scientology E-meter is a hit!
[EIGHT years ago] LEAK: Narconon’s Legal Affairs Director Admits No Scientific Basis for Advertised Success Rates
[NINE years ago] Sunday Funnies: LRH Gets an Answer from Tricky Dick!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,258 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,762 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,282 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,302 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,193 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,500 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,368 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,142 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,472 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,946 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,262 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,828 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,747 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,915 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,496 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,757 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,795 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,508 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,033 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 388 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,563 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,114 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,263 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,583 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,438 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,557 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,913 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,216 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,322 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,724 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,596 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,179 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,674 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,928 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,037 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on April 1, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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