Olivet University, a college that brands itself as "Christian", is under investigation for money laundering, human trafficking, and visa fraud in what is being called a "complex and serious" case by a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security. Newsweek confirmed that four federal and local agencies currently have Olivet as the subject of their investigations.
Olivet University was founded by David Jang, a Korean-American religious leader who has been the subject of several US investigations over the past several years.
Olivet has previously made headlines for forming an "educational partnership" with the World Evangelical Alliance and for its relationship with the Christian Post. In 2020, two Jang associates pleaded guilty to a $35 million money laundering scheme involving Olivet and the Christian Post.
Christian Chou, the current CEO of the Christian Post, is an Olivet graduate who previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer for the WEA.
The allegations of human trafficking, which are currently being investigated, per Newsweek, may have to do with Jang's participation in a Christian sect called the World Olivet Assembly, of which he is the leader.
As reported in a recently unearthed 2012 blog post, Jang is the head of this sect. There are concerns that, as head of the World Olivet Assembly, Jang has convinced followers to do so-called missionary work, wherein they are forced to work for free at one of Jang's various enterprises.
Whether those followers believe that they are doing work for their leader or not, the consequences for forcing people into servitude in the US, and keeping back their pay, are severe.
Jang has given followers the impression that he is the second-coming of Christ. Though he hasn't said this directly, the post noted that as an acolyte of Sun-Myung Moon for more than 30 years, he has ways of convincing followers to believe things without saying those things outright. Jang also teaches his followers that "lying" is a justifiable means to achieve their goal of "expanding the Kingdom of God and protecting their group."
Tracy Davis, wife of Newsweek co-owner Jonathan Davis, was president of Olivet in 2018 when the school pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and was subject to a $1.25 million fine in New York City. Jonathan Davis is also CEO of IBT Media, Newsweek reports, which was the outlet's corporate parent until 2018. DHS confirmed that Olivet-affiliated entities, such as IBT, were also under investigation, but that Newsweek was not.
Olivet has bought up a large property in mid-state New York, a former mental health facility, that still stands dormant despite the signs stating that it is an outpost of the small university. The school has bought many other properties across the US, and many of those, too, are as yet uninhabited. Jang has used several online Christian magazines to exert his influence in the media as well.