Rise & Fall of The Washington Times: The Ex-Nazis, Cocaine Smugglers & Cultists Who Created a Right-Wing Propaganda Organ, And Brought It Crashing Down
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“Myself along with three or four other members that worked at Manhattan Center saw the cash in bags, shopping bags.”
In an interview with me in the mid-1990s, Pretorious said Asian church members would bring cash into the United States where it would be circulated through Moon’s business entities as a way to launder it.
At the center of this financial operation, Pretorious said, was One-Up Corp., a Delaware-registered holding company that owned many Moon enterprises including the Manhattan Center and New World Communications, the parent company of the Washington Times.
“Once that cash is at the Manhattan Center, it has to be accounted for,” Pretorious said. “The way that’s done is to launder the cash. Manhattan Center gives cash to a business called Happy World which owns restaurants. ... Happy World needs to pay illegal aliens. ... Happy World pays some back to the Manhattan Center for ‘services rendered.’ The rest goes to One-Up and then comes back to Manhattan Center as an investment.”
In 1996, the Uruguayan bank employees union blew the whistle on another Moon money-laundering scheme, in which some 4,200 female Japanese followers allegedly walked into the Moon-controlled Banco de Credito in Montevideo and deposited as much as $25,000 each.
The money from the women went into the account of an anonymous association called Cami II, which was controlled by Moon’s Unification Church. In one day, Cami II received $19 million and, by the time the parade of women ended, the total had swelled to about $80 million.
It was not clear where the money originated, nor how many other times Moon’s organization has used this tactic – known as “smurfing” – to transfer untraceable cash into Uruguay.
Authorities did not push the money-laundering investigation, apparently out of deference to Moon’s political clout and fear of disrupting Uruguay’s banking industry. However, other critics condemned Moon’s operations.
“The first thing we ought to do is clarify to the people [of Uruguay] that Moon’s sect is a type of modern pirate that came to the country to perform obscure money operations, such as money laundering,” said Jorge Zabalza, who was a leader of the Movimiento de Participacion Popular. “This sect is a kind of religious mob that is trying to get public support to pursue its business.”
While Moon’s criminal enterprises may have been operating at one level, Moon’s political influence-buying was functioning at another, as he spread around billions of dollars to the top echelons of Washington power.
For instance, when the New Right’s direct-mail whiz Richard Viguerie fell on hard times in the late 1980s, Moon had a corporation run by his lieutenant, Bo Hi Pak, buy one of Viguerie’s properties for $10 million. [ See OrangeCounty Register, Dec. 21, 1987; Washington Post, Oct. 15, 1989]
Moon also used the Washington Times and its affiliated publications to create seemingly legitimate conduits to funnel money to individuals and companies. In another example of Moon’s helpful largesse, the Washington Times hired Viguerie to conduct a pricy direct-mail subscription drive.
Another case of saving a right-wing icon occurred when the Rev. Jerry Falwell was facing financial ruin over the debts piling up at Liberty University.
But the fundamentalist Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, got a last-minute bail-out in the mid-1990s ostensibly from two Virginia businessmen, Dan Reber and Jimmy Thomas, who used their non-profit Christian Heritage Foundation to snap up a large chunk of Liberty’s debt for $2.5 million, a fraction of its face value.
Falwell rejoiced and called the moment “the greatest single day of financial advantage” in the school’s history, even though it was accomplished at the disadvantage of many small true-believing investors who had bought the church construction bonds through a Texas company.