Pat Robertson’s gold mining and oil drilling deals have lost $78 million dollars, according to a feature story in Fortune magazine.
“All told, the Robertson Charitable Remainder Trust has burned through an estimated $78 million of its $109 million starting funds—a loss of 72 percent of the capital, with no return,” the article said. “The big bets, so far, have been big failures.”
Fortune reported that Robertson made over $400 million from the sale of his publicly traded cable operation, IFE, to media giant Rupert Murdoch in 1997. Robertson personally received $19 million. Regent University received $148 million, while his other non-profit entity, the Christian Broadcasting Network, obtained $136 million.
The Robertson Charitable Remainder Trust got an estimated $109 million, from which Robertson has invested in gold mining in Liberia and oil drilling in California.
In addition to his university and broadcasting company, Robertson’s “$300-million-a-year empire” includes Operation Blessing, a charitable endeavor.
Fortune said his “businesses are sustained largely by his uncanny ability to persuade ordinary folks to send him cash.”
The magazine said that Robertson understands how pivotal he is to his empire’s financial health, a lesson he learned when he ran for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1988.
During fiscal year 1986-87, CBN took in $130 million in donations. Two years later giving had plunged to $60 million.
Robertson’s recent business deals are intended to ensure that his institutions have “staying power” after he is no longer the CBN on-air personality.
Responding to the Fortune story, Robertson posted a letter on his Web site on June 5.
“I write to express my amazement at the factual inaccuracies and unalloyed bigotry shown in the article written about my activities,” he said.
He did acknowledge that “the final liquidation of the refinery will no doubt result in some loss.”
Robertson accused Fortune of blurring the distinction between money which came from him for his business ventures and money that came from charitable contributions. “None of the contributions from charitable donations were in any way invested in businesses owned by my trust,” Robertson asserted.
Fortune was no longer worth reading, he wrote. “I would request that you immediately cancel my subscription.”
Robertson did not address the magazine’s report about his dealings in Liberia, however.
The next day Robertson posted another letter on his site. Writing to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Robertson questioned U.S. support for a rebel group to overthrow the Liberian president Charles Taylor. Robertson portrayed the opposition movement as being more corrupt than Taylor’s regime.
Taylor is widely recognized as one of Africa’s most undeniable despots. He also has ties to Robertson’s gold mining venture.