Other defendants include Symetra, a financial services company, and private equity funds such as Motorskill Venture Group into which the church said Harris invested about $37 million of annuity plan funds without necessary approvals.
The church said its retirement plan comprised $49.5 million in investments when it was opened with Symetra around December 2001.
In his final report to the AME Church, Harris said the plan was valued at $128 million. The church said it has since learned that the latter valuation is “a baseless representation recklessly and deceptively made to plan participants without any third-party verification.”
Harris, it said, called the transactions related to the fund “prudent” and “conservative.”
The accounting firm Rodney Brown and Co., another defendant in the court filing, performed audits for the department for 15 years. Mirroring Harris’ report, it certified in 2020 and 2021 that the annuity plan contained $128 million in funds. The investigation, the church said, showed this valuation was “deceptive, false, and grossly inflated.”
The AME Church says it intends to restore “the full initial investment plus interest” to each participant in the retirement annuity plan.
It says any losses suffered by Ewing are the result of actions by third parties and/or church “employees that acted outside the scope of their employment.”
In addition to the lawsuit, the church said Harris and others are being investigated by law enforcement.
This article originally appeared here.