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The Lyin’ King: Gerald Payne and the Greater Ministries International $500 Million Fraud

By   /   March 4, 2014  /   No Comments

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David Whitfield was a Greater Ministries “Elder,” whose title was finance director. It was Whitfield who played the role of Greater Ministries’ representative for its International Bank of Nauru. Nauru is a tiny Pacific island republic off the north coast of New Zealand.

During this period, the 1990s, Nauru and a few other Pacific island republics served as off-shore tax havens for American corporations. Nauru was used as a financial center for other church-based, get-rich-quick schemes. In 1992, regulators shut three of them down.

Greater Ministries claimed to own a bank on Nauru. In reality, the Bank of Nauru was Whitfield’s office at Greater Ministries headquarters in Tampa. Greater Ministries only had a bank license from Nauru. In 1998, that was revoked.

Two other important members of Payne’s criminal inner circle included “Elders” James Chambers and John Krishak.

Chambers, a man in his early 60s, proved to be most adept at recruiting new investors to the scheme, and ended up receiving the most commission of anyone in supporting cast.

Krishak, a musician and gospel singer of some talent, was a fixture performer at Greater Ministries road shows. Pudgy, balding, with a goatee, Krishak was a highly energized presence at the pitch sessions. He often mixed his musical performance with a sales pitch.

The middle-aged Krishak was smug. During a January 1997 meeting videotaped and sold by Greater Ministries, he mocked those who were undecided while friends got rich off Greater Ministries.

“I’m beginning to wonder about our sanity, about our intelligence,” Krishak said sarcastically. “It’s like the people we show our program to and they go, ‘I dunno.’ What are you, nuts?”

Krishak also ran the vital courier service that delivered Greater Ministries cash payments to and from investors. At investor meetings, Krishak would tell potential marks he worked as local representative for the Greater International Bank of Nauru.

Payne’s team was rewarded with commissions of 5% of what they brought in to the program in investment.

Payne called these commission payments “Gas Money,” and it totaled tens of thousands of dollars every month for each member of the team. At the end, Gerald Payne’s team filled up their tanks with more than $20 million in gas money.

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