New cash smuggling allegations raised against Filipino mega-church officials
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Leaders of a Filipino mega-church in Hawaii are facing new allegations of cash smuggling by a former follower.
Felina Salinas, a Hawaii manager for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, has been charged with trying to smuggle more than $300,000 in cash from Hawaii to the Philippines last year on the private jet of the church’s founder, Apollo Quiboloy.
In recent court documents, federal prosecutors said former church member Kristina Angeles saw Quiboloy and Salinas order church members to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars from California to the Philippines on two separate occasions in 2013 and 2014.
“Church members concealed U.S. currency in black socks,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Albanese.
“The socks were packed in a suitcase which was transported to the Philippines.”
According to the government, neither the church nor its members declared the cash — an apparent violation of federal currency laws.
But Salinas’ attorney Michael Green said Angeles has given conflicting accounts of the alleged smuggling operation.
“I have a woman who says she saw $100,000 go from California to the Philippines, then she said it was two or three million," Green said. “She says it was put in socks. They must have parishioners with size 18 feet because the socks must have been really big.”
In his court filing, Albanese disclosed another potential conflict: Angeles was charged in state court for sexually abusing a young girl who was a member of the church.
But the federal prosecutor also introduced text messages he said indicates that the state charges may be based on perjured testimony from the mother of the alleged victim. Both the mother and the victim are members of the church.
One of the text messages shows Salinas urging the victim’s mother to prosecute Angeles.
“Please sis do something … everything in your power to speed this up … Please deport her ASAP," Salinas’ text said.
In her text response, the mother appears to acknowledge she gave false testimony:
“I cannot sleep thinking I have to lie in federal court … I have never done that ever in my life," the woman wrote.
With over 6 million followers, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, which is based in Davao City in the Philippines, is an evangelical church founded by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
Outside of the Philippines, the fast-growing church owns properties in Iwase, Japan; Surrey, British Columbia; New York; California and Hawaii.
Sources said the church’s North America operations generate more than $3 million a year from tithes and offerings.
“I have no doubt that the mission -- that where this money goes -- may wind up in the Philippines and then from there it’s disbursed all over the world to different churches,” said Green.
“There’s an elementary school, a high school, a college. There’s a school for missionaries. I saw a photograph where they are feeding hundreds and hundreds of people who are victims of floods and earthquakes."
But there’s also a dark side to the church, Angeles’ attorneys alleged.
In court filings last month, Deputy Public Defender Lesley Maloian wrote that much of the organization’s money in the Hawaii comes from church members who hustle for donations on Oahu’s streets and sell Krispy Kreme donuts, manapua and bread.
Some of them have to work seven days a week, often working until late at night, Maloian wrote.
“For evening solicitations, Salinas instructed the workers to go to bars and strip clubs because she said intoxicated males were easy to solicit from,” Maloian wrote.
“Kristina’s goal was $2,500 daily. If a worker didn’t raise enough on a given day, Salinas would tell them they had a ‘devil spirit’ in them and that was why they were not able to raise enough money.”
According to Maloian, Angeles joined the church in 2005 at the age of 16 and later became part of Quiboloy’s inner circle, often traveling with him abroad.
One night, according to Maloian, Angeles was told by Salinas to “'obey' the pastor and give herself" to him.
“Kristina was then locked in the pastor’s room and although she resisted, he forced himself on her,” Maloian wrote.
“Based on Salinas’ statements and Kristina’s own observations/inquiries, Kristina concluded that Pastor Quiboloy was sexually assaulting many other young girls."
Quiboloy has vehemently denied he sexually assaulted Angeles and that has said that none of the young women in his church were sexually trafficked.
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