A former Oral Roberts University accountant revised his lawsuit on Thursday to allege that more than $1 billion annually was funneled through the university, possibly to individual regents.
"It appears that many of the former board members were actual participants in the funneling of money through the university for their own eventual personal use, and thus, the foxes were watching the hen house," says former accountant Trent Huddleston's lawsuit.
ORU spokesman Jeremy Burton said, "The allegations of inappropriately funneling money through accounts as alleged by the plaintiff have no basis in fact."
Huddleston's attorney Gary Richardson said Huddleston had seen the account when he worked at ORU, between July 2006 and October 2007. In the lawsuit, Huddleston claims he was wrongfully fired because ORU, Oral Roberts Ministries and their leaders' fears he would talk about the alleged "'unrestricted' account" and because he regularly questioned expenses.
Richardson said he received confirmation about the alleged unrestricted account from a person who should know. Until he received confirmation, he agreed that funneling of $1 billion seemed implausible.
"Based on the confirmation, I'm very confident" in the allegation, Richardson said. "As confident as one can be without seeing it for oneself."
In 2005-06, ORU's expenses were $83.89 million and revenue was $79.7 million, according to its Internal Revenue Service filing.
Richardson had not seen any documentation of the alleged account or flow of money, he said, and he "cannot disclose" whether the information came from an audit of ORU's finances, performed after more of Richardson's clients sued ORU and alleged that its president and his family had misspent ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries money. ORU has not made the audit public, and officials have said ORU's former board of regents received the report verbally. ORU is now governed by a new board of trustees.
"I have no answers about where this money came from nor where it went," Richardson said.
The new version of Huddleston's lawsuit adds as defendants all of ORU's former business regents, a former associate regent, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and the association/Oral Roberts Ministries directors, John and Jane Does.
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