Billionaire Charged with Massive Stock Fraud May be ‘Donor’ for Ravi Zacharias’ 2017 Lawsuit

By Julie Roys
On October 25, 2019, Ravi Zacharias (right) interviews billionaire Bill Hwang at an RZIM Founder's Weekend event in Aventura, Florida. (Courtesy Photo)

A Christian billionaire charged with running a multibillion-dollar stock fraud is the man who funded Ravi Zacharias’ 2017 lawsuit against Lori Anne Thompson, a former RZIM spokesperson says.

Prosecutors in New York yesterday announced racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud charges against Bill Hwang, the founder of Archegos Capital Management.

Today, Ruth Malhotra, former public relations manager for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), accused Hwang of helping Zacharias cover up his abuse.

 “When Ravi Zacharias filed a RICO lawsuit against @LoriAnneThompson whom he sexually abused, Ravi said he had a ‘donor with deep pockets who’ll fund it as long as it takes to silence the Thompsons’,” Malhotra tweeted today. “That donor was Bill Hwang, who was just arrested by DOJ for fraud and racketeering.”

Malhotra followed up with a tweet stating that “questions remain” about RZIM’s role in Hwang’s funding of the RICO lawsuit. “Hwang was RZIM board member, & featured speaker-including at 2017 Business leaders Conference & 2019 Founders Weekend. Some of us on staff raised concerns in ’17 but we were shut down.”

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Patrick Halligan, CFO of Archegos, was also charged by federal prosecutors. Both Hwang and Halligan have pleaded not guilty. If convicted of all charges, Hwang could face up to 380 years in prison.

Bill Hwang billionaire
Bill Hwang

As previously reported in The Roys Report, Hwang was a major donor to RZIM. In 2017, Hwang’s Grace and Mercy Foundation gave more than $1 million to RZIM. The foundation gave $255,000 in 2018 to the now disgraced ministry.

Hwang’s foundation also gave millions of dollars to more than 60 other charities, most of which are evangelical. These included Fuller Seminary, The King’s College, International Justice Mission, Museum of the Bible, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Hwang’s company was named after the Greek word “archegos,” which means “chief leader” and is often used in the New Testament to refer to Jesus Christ.

The lawsuit in 2017 was a RICO lawsuit accusing Brad and Lori Anne Thompson of “coaxing (Zacharias) into an inappropriate online relationship” as part of a scheme to extort money from Zacharias.

Though Zacharias brought the lawsuit, he reportedly paid $250,000 to the Thompsons to settle the case and both parties signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Zacharias’ narrative that the Thompsons were extorting money from him has been shown to be false by evidence published in TRR and the results of an independent investigation released by RZIM.

Rather than being the victim of extortion, evidence showed Zacharias was a sexual predator who sued the Thompsons to conceal his abuse.

Ravi Zacharias RZIM
Ravi Zacharias speaks to students at the Zacharias Institute in Alpharetta, Georgia, in July 2018. (Photo by Gary S. Chapman)

In a 2017 Christianity Today article, Zacharias claimed that “no ministry funds were used” to pay legal fees related to his lawsuit against the Thompsons.

However, a more recent independent investigation commissioned by RZIM found that’s not true. The report by Guidepost Solutions states that a “donor” provided funds to pay for Zacharias’ lawsuit against the Thompsons by funneling money through RZIM.

The report said RZIM would receive legal bills for the lawsuit. Then the donor would donate money to cover the amount of the legal bills, and RZIM would send the money to the law firm.

According to the report, “these donations were not recorded as payments for legal fees in RZIM’s books and records.” The report does not name the “donor.”

TRR reached out to Hwang through his charitable foundation and asked whether Hwang funded the lawsuit against Thompsons but did not immediately hear back.

On RZIM’s FAQ page, the organization has posted a response to the question of whether RZIM will issue a correction for Zacharias’ 2017 claim that “no ministry funds were used” for Zacharias’ lawsuit. The page states:

No one in finance was consulted prior to the release of the December 3, 2017, statement containing the words “…and no ministry funds were used.” Although the very next day, the CFO raised concerns of this mischaracterization of the facts to several board members, those who weighed on the final decision concluded that it was an unintentional error and believed that amending Zacharias’ personal statement would be an overreach, since it was not an official position of RZIM or its leadership.

Lori Anne Thompson called the news today about Hwang “unbelievable” in a tweet.

“Yesterday, (Hwang) was ARRESTED for the very thing I was falsely accused of,” she tweeted. “This corruption ran through his ministry, board and donor base. Unbelievable.”

Lori Anne Thompson has repeatedly asked to be released from the NDA she signed with Zacharias in 2017. To date, the executor of the Zacharias’ estate has refused to do so.

The future and current structure of RZIM remain unclear. Last year, the ministry announced that it would change its name, remove all Zacharias-related content, and focus on supporting evangelism and abuse victims. The organization drastically downsized, firing most of its staff and requiring them to sign NDAs.

Last October, former RZIM CEO Sarah Davis launched a new ministry called Encounter, which employs several former RZIM speakers. The name of the ministry was later changed to Lighten, and it was disclosed that RZIM provided initial funding for the organization. Davis has since resigned from the Lighten, but her husband, Lou Phillips, remains one of Lighten’s speakers.

In January of this year, another one of Zacharias’ daughters, Noami Zacharias, launched a new nonprofit pledging to “restore” the legacy of Ravi Zacharias and using Zacharias’ Facebook platform to raise funds. The nonprofit, Third Ladder, raises money for charitable causes.

RZIM continues to exist as an entity and continues to maintain an online presence. However, its board members and employees remain undisclosed.

Bond has been set at $100 million for Hwang and $1 million for Halligan. Both men are expected to be released today.

*This piece was updated to add clarity.

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11 thoughts on “Billionaire Charged with Massive Stock Fraud May be ‘Donor’ for Ravi Zacharias’ 2017 Lawsuit”

  1. In 1993 as a 5 year old new Christian of 42 years of age I was led by the Spirit to write an exhaustive apologetic workbook. It was mainly at the time for the home school market since nothing existed of the sort after I checked with all major ministries including RZIM. I had a 12 year old son at the time who I was discipling.

    When complete, I sent a draft to them that included a few phrases of Ravi’s with the proper credit and asking them if any changes needed to be made. I received a surprisingly ominous threatening call from a top leader demanding I remove all material of Ravi’s. With my heart pounding, I asked why. He said the material was Ravi’s only and was copyrighted.

    The Spirit in me responded immediately. “Aren’t you glad God didn’t copyright the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible for we’d be in a heap of trouble now, wouldn’t we?” Silence.

    He coldly said to remove it all. And just hung up. A week later I received a letter from their attorney threatening me if I failed to do so. Of course, I complied.

    As a long time business consultant I once was told by a client of the old Italian proverb as he was describing the politics and coverups in their board room: the fish rots from the head down.

    The Lord will have His day with these people. Only those who have ears to hear and endure to the end will be saved.

  2. Mellisa Fernandez

    If I was related to RZ, I’d do all I could to distance from him and his toxic legacy. I certainly wouldn’t try to restore the family name; it should be buried.

  3. sorry but mr hwang is not a christian as christians dont run stock fraud schemes. and to all the john macarthur supporters, remember, ravi was the number one christian apologist on earth for decades, he preached sound doctrine and won thousands to christ, 35+ years service to christ, UNTILL it was found out he was a fraud all along living a double life. believing and teaching sound doctrine for 35+ years does NOT mean a person is a true christian.

  4. Make no mistake, the collapse of Archegos caused serious damage to the financial markets.

    Credit Suisse AG alone lost 5.1 billion dollars and is still impacted.

    The U.S Attorney said the following this week…

    “They lied, a lot,” …..“They lied about how big Archegos investments had become,
    they lied about how much cash Archegos had on hand, they lied about the nature of the stocks that Archegos held. They told those lies for a reason — so that the banks would have no idea that Archegos
    was really up to a big market manipulation scheme.”

    Then I read the reason Hwang set up Archegos — a Greek word often translated as “author” or “captain,” and often considered a reference to Jesus — to manage his own personal fortune.–

    It is no surprise then he backed RZIM to the hilt.

    There is a good reason why we call the evangelical church in the U.S. the
    EVANGELICAL-INDUSTRIAL- COMPLEX.

    What a joke….

    It also reminds me of how evangelicals love Donald Trump…….

    Lies Lies Lies Lies……

  5. The never-ending story. These people all start out with good hearts, and I admire them for doing the things to spread the word that most of us don’t do. He went to Vietnam and Laos during the war to spread the word with American soldiers. Nicer person then I would be. Then slowly these people become larger than life. then the church becomes the mega church. then the books and lecture circuits, then the money POURS IN and bam. They no longer are what they started out to be. now they are just a rock star in the eyes of all the wrong people and become untouchable or become too holy for mere mortals to challenge. And all the stories are the same. People were aware of the bad behavior but never said a word. WHY? well maybe out of respect or can’t believe it’s true or don’t want to lose their job. Very sad.

      1. Well Vance, I’m trying to give them benefit of the doubt. I am sure some see the millionaires and go ohhhh, that’s for me.

    1. It’s not just the money, it’s also the power and influence that comes with it. People like Zacharias and MacArthur have millions hanging on every word they preach. They merely have to say they want something, and it gets done, no questions asked. They have surrounded themselves with family, allies and yes men, and are completely unimpeachable within their world. They will do anything they can to protect their reputation, casting those who dare to accuse them of wrongdoing as agents of the devil, or worse.

      It’s intoxicating, and not just for them, but also for those who move in the same circle — the trusted lieutenants, favored employees, kept in line with a combination of incentives and privilege. If you’re that close to the boss, you’re not there by accident. You have proven yourself to be a loyal and trusting acolyte, so it’s not really that surprising few if any believe their boss is even capable of such scurrilous behavior, let alone that they actually did anything wrong, even after they are presented with the truth.

      1. Mike this is why in my comments in the past I refer to these places as fiefdoms. Think about it. They DO surround themselves with family and friends and yes men and become like a KING. Fiefdoms are run by Kings. Churches are run by Elders and a Pastor. And as you know, nobody challenges the KING unless they want to be dealt with horribly. AND just look at some of the headlines in Roy’s Report on who are the horrible yes men, who stand by and emulate the KING. And my confusion is why do they stick around. I experienced some of these people in the past. Once I saw what they really stand for I left. AND the people are some of the infamous of the eighties and nineties. I really believe if Tony Robbins started yelling “Jesus is lord” he could double his income in one year. And many of these “church services” are more pump and dump on the emotions vs actually learning scripture-based sermons. Church for me is for edification and faith building. NOT to see someone with anger management issues or impulse control issues. The more someone can’t stand still as if they need a bathroom break and gets animated on stage, the more I now its entertainment.

  6. Joshua Chiok

    A Scripture warning comes to mind:

    Jeremiah 17:5-10
    English Standard Version
    5 Thus says the Lord:
    “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,[a]
    whose heart turns away from the Lord.
    6 He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
    He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

    7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
    8 He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
    and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
    and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
    10 “I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,[b]
    to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”

  7. Robert Simpson

    Re: “Hwang’s foundation also gave millions of dollars to more than 60 other charities, most of which are evangelical. These included Fuller Seminary, The King’s College, International Justice Mission, Museum of the Bible, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”
    Do these recipients of money have moral or legal obligations to turn over the money to the victims of the crimes who lost so much money?

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