Editor's Note 3/5/19: The language in paragraph 3 has been changed from "plaintiffs" to "class" to clarify that the entire class, not only the named plaintiffs, will be eligible to receive reimbursement from GFA. Additional information was also added to paragraph 3 to clarify that, at the time of this article being written, the settlement is yet to be finalized.
Non-Profit missions organization Gospel for Asia announced on Thursday that after three years in court, they have reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit levied against.
According to a statement released by GFA, the organization was accused of “racketeering, fraud and financial mismanagement.” Christianity Today notes that the organization was facing two lawsuits which claimed that GFA was only sending “13 percent of its donations to the field instead of the oft-promised 100 percent.”
The two suits eventually merged and became a class-action suit with more than 200,000 people – those who donated to GFA between January 2009 and September 2018 – looking for reimbursement. Christianity Today reports that the suit originally requested $376 million from GFA, but the settlement, which was submitted to a federal court for “preliminary approval," will make all members of the class eligible for only 10 percent of the requested amount – $37 million. The settlement would also require GFA to surrender a board seat to Lead plaintiff Garland Murphy.
GFA will also be required to remove the founder K.P. Yohannan’s wife Gisela from the board to be replaced by someone approved by both Murphy and Yohannan.
Despite reaching a settlement in court, GFA is maintaining their innocence. A statement released by the organization reads: “The settlement is not an acknowledgment of guilt by Gospel for Asia and, in fact, the settlement agreement reads in section 1.6, ‘[Gospel for Asia’s] position is that the evidence demonstrates (i) all funds designated to the field were sent to the field and used for ministry purposes; and (ii) no Individual Defendant, as defined herein, received any improper personal gain or enrichment from or related to donated funds. Without admitting any liability or wrongdoing whatsoever and expressly denying any such liability or wrongdoing and while maintaining they have substantial factual and legal defenses to all claims and class allegations in the Murphy Litigation and Dickson Litigation...’”
According to Christianity Today, court documents show that GFA asserted that all funds designated for the field went to the field, but there was “no guarantee” that the money would go toward the “exact” project it was initially intended for.
“For three long years, our ministry wondered more often than I’d like to admit if we would survive this ordeal,” GFA’s founder K.P. Yohannan said of the legal action.
“We are so incredibly thankful for the prayers and the ongoing support of our many faithful friends and partners. We look today toward the future with optimism in our hearts ‘being confident of this one thing: that He who began a good work in [us] will continue to perfect it.’”
Yohannan added, “I’m most proud of the fact that we managed to continue to serve those in need even as we fought every day to survive ourselves.”
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