Has the French Government inadvertently exposed the Society’s financial vulnerability?

An interesting video has recently been uploaded to JW.org that casts considerable doubt over the state of the Watch Tower Society’s finances. The video, which is a staged interview regarding the organization’s recent victory over the French Government in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), appears to suggest that the Society is only 45 million Euros ($60 million) away from “liquidation.”

As mentioned on pages 34 to 36 of the 2013 Yearbook, on 30th June 2011 the ECHR found the French government guilty of violating the religious freedom of Jehovah’s Witnesses through their 1998 imposition of a 60% tax on all donations, to be applied retrospectively from the years 1983 to 1996. The Society appealed against the decision, and only after repeatedly bringing the matter before the ECHR was the French Government penalized – forced to pay more than 8 million dollars (or 6 million Euros) in illegally confiscated money, legal fees and accrued interest. Predictably, the Society has hailed this as a huge victory – but in toasting their success they may have inadvertently let slip a damning piece of information.

Jean-Claude Pons claims the payment of $60 million would have resulted in the liquidation of the Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses

In the video, Jean-Claude Pons, a member of the national headquarters in France, is interviewed (seemingly by another Witness posing as a reporter) for the purpose of recounting the legal victory. During the interview, Pons goes so far as to reveal that the consequences of the French government’s taxation of the Society would have been devastating.

When asked how this tax would have been a violation of the religious freedom of the Witnesses, Jean-Claude responds: “Because it was so huge! It could have resulted in the liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Headquarters, and it would have been a major interference with our religious activities in France.” You can listen to the comments yourself by watching the full video below…

Exactly what Pons means by the “liquidation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Headquarters” is unclear, but this startling admission certainly seems to suggest that the Society would have faced serious or even terminal financial consequences if the French Government had been let off the hook over their admittedly preposterous taxation attempts.

If the Society’s situation IS so grave that they are only $60 million away from meltdown, it may go some way to explaining why they are fighting the $11 million Candace Conti verdict with such voracity. It may be that they simply cannot afford to lose. The admission will also cause thinking Witnesses to pause for thought. If the Watch Tower Society is truly enjoying Jehovah’s rich blessing, as repeatedly implied, then why is their situation so perilous?

It could be argued that this must be an exaggeration on the part of Jean-Claude Pons, or perhaps a slip-up that can be blamed on his poor English. After all, according to the 2013 Yearbook report, the Society spent $184 million on the expenses of missionaries, special pioneers and travelling overseers in 2012 – an increase of $11 million on the previous year. However, regardless of what money the Society claims to be spending annually, it can only spend what it receives in donations. If the comments made by Pons are accurate (and they certainly seem assertive), then they suggest that the Society may have an annual operating surplus of less than $60 million for contingencies.

Whether the situation is really as dire as this interview would seem to suggest remains to be seen. It is certainly baffling as to why the Society would knowingly allow this piece of information to leak out in one of their new polished publicity videos unless (1) they are not adequately censoring the output of their video production teams, or (2) they WANT to subtly inform Witnesses that their financial situation is precarious, because they are in need of extra donations.


26 thoughts on “Is Watchtower $60 million away from liquidation?

  • January 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I certainly believe that the donations have been going down. I think it is more the probability that they only have so much money they can actually get at. The org is worth billions, but clearly you cant just sell a building quickly to get at some of your money.
    Its a bit like the guy who owns a ten million pound mansion. He could very well say he has little money, and he could be right, for all his money is invested in bricks and mortar.
    The org has been downsizing and streamlining, so they are certainly thinking that they need to release more cash for different problems that exist in the org.
    I guess only time will tell, but here’s hoping they really are in some financial trouble.

  • January 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I have just watched the video, and I personally think the org rep is talking about the France accounts. If so I’m sure he is right. They could not have covered that sort of loss in France. But France is a very small part of a worldwide organisation that is worth billions of dollars, and just as a father may help his son out financially when he really needs it, I am sure the mother organisation would have covered France’s financial shortfall, allbeit reluctantly.

    • January 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks Alan. That could explain things. Traditionally, a local office has always been referred to as either a “branch office” or a “country office.”

      It does seem that, when Pons is introduced, he is described as a member of the French “national headquarters” – so it could well be that this is what he is referring to when he talks of potential liquidation. I’m not sure when this new “headquarters” designation came into use. That word is usually only used to describe World Headquarters in New York.

      If he IS referring to the French “headquarters”, then why refer purely to a building rather than the broader French organization? And why not make himself clearer in his answer? It could well be that his comments were specific to France, but I’d say I’m 50/50 right now.

  • January 2, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Maybe the French WT rep was referring to the WTS’s liquid assets. If they are that low, that may be why they’ve been liquidating some of their real estate holdings.

  • January 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Unfortunately, freedom of religion basically means freedom to lie if you want to do it in the name of God. When the JW’s win a court battle they can herald themselves as defenders of religion, but in reality they are just defending their right to lie in the name of God.

    The French Government made a large mistake by attacking the Watchtower in such a manner. They will be taken down by the people they victimize, not the governments that allow them to exist.

  • January 6, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Hello Cedars. Who knows what to believe from the Society. We do indeed try to interpret signs involving the society though. For example, we know in 1999, the WatchTower Society solemnly dedicated Patterson Center to Jehovah, but in 2012, the WTS tried to use Patterson as collateral in the Conti loss. This appears to be a desperate attempt to hang onto cash. You’ve mentioned this before.

    Also, we hear reports of the society softening its stand on blood transfusions. It appears to me finances and the unscriptualness of the policy has something to do with this change. If the blood issue was truly biblical, I believe the society wouldn’t budge under lawsuit pressure.

    We know the society has typically employed ways around the paying of sales tax by changing to the donation system.

    I believe an improper view of money has clouded any good intentions the society may have ever had. The WTS may do better to disband the world wide organization, downsize to individual Governing Body member and let him pick up his own Bible as an individual and alone knock on doors without accepting a cent.

  • January 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    I didn’t watch the video–but even by just reading this write-up i felt it had to be referring to the branch in France.

  • January 8, 2013 at 3:18 am

    At the beginning it mentions the “national” headquarters of France.
    And throughout the video, it is clearly discussing the French branch ‘headquarters’. I do not think that to single out & attack JWs in France will do their government any favours! But may actually help JWs bring about new converts. Which such seemingly ‘anti religious’ government may not like.

    But a shame it is not the “international” headquarters!!

  • January 8, 2013 at 4:19 am

    So true, what you said at the end. Although the world headquarters have got their own problems to deal with. One being the child sex abuse cases that are starting to mount up. That, and the lack of growth, which in turn means lack of donations, must be giving the gov body big headaches at the moment.

  • January 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Well, then, the $3 billion class action child abuse case in Australia ought to take them out :-) :-) :-)

    • January 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Hello Danielle..Nice to meet you here on this site.What is going on in Australia? I have a grand daughter who is a J W and of course not being a witness she doesn’t tell me any thing about her church. Kindly let me know what is going on there about child abuse. Thank you, Ed Lundgren

  • January 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I find this site very interesting. Add me to your list for updates.
    Thank you

  • January 20, 2013 at 3:45 am

    I believe you are trying to explain the concept of Liquid assets vs Frozen ones

  • February 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    In the Video the definatly dont talk about the world headqauters in NW.

    Please stady the finace reports of Canada and England brachches oft the WTS. The show that ther is still a big groth of donations.
    This reports also revil some Information that one would not expect as JW. I am a inactiv member of JW.

  • February 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Any organization if it is hit with a big enough law suit will crumble.

    In some countries the witnesses are disconnected totally from the org and they have grown in numbers.

    So if the printing presses were to disappear, and the buildings were to be sold i doubt that would be the end of THE jay w’s

  • February 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    After some research, I’t was found that aside from market investments such as the Hedge Funds that everyone made such a gigantic fuss and furor over, it is rumored that The Watchtower Society likely has other extrinsic investments such as much as half ownership in the Rand Corporation and others but unconfirmed…and of course, it was a concern among some that funds and assets may have been or are planning to be transferred either overseas or into other shill non profits in an effort to conceal or protect them from litigation so it is unlikely that such a potentially diverse financial and assets platform will dissolve anytime soon…there is no “transparency” so one really doesn’t no for sure…(???)

  • April 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

    It looks to me like there was a rush to liquidate brick and mortar assets. Besides selling all of the property in NY, they also sold many branch offices worldwide (I think it was 20). The article was on JW.ORG but I can’t find it now. By now that money has probably been moved or “donated” to another company to protect it from law suits. The Conti case taught them that physical assets can be seized. It looks like they learned from this. So what do you do? You liquidate everything and run bare bones, just enough to look legit. It wouldn’t really surprise me if they are setting up shop elsewhere.

    • April 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

      If the society do start to get short of money they only have to put a bit of extra pressure on the faithful and most will cough up.
      If you really believe this is God’s organisation, you are probably going to do all you can to keep it afloat.

  • November 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    You can not understand fully the work and actions of witnesses if you are outside. Thd witnesses are supernatural.

  • December 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    $11 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $1 billion from the sale of buildings in Brooklyn. I wonder where all the money is going. Greedy old men with delusions of grandure and evilness.

  • August 1, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I was born into witnesses my family were ‘foot in the door’ merchants. I left at 18. I love God I know he is always with me – I try to live my life as he wants me to. JW are a very rich organisation and are very dangerous.
    I always ask ‘ would Jesus do this this’? And the answer is always no! JW’s are like any other big religion – to much money to much power. What happened to ‘ get out of her my people’ ?? God is within – live your life right – help all you can….

  • September 23, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Each branch operates financially independent from the other. From a legal standpoint… It would have only affected the French branch of jws.
    Spiritual instruction is provided from the the branch in new York.
    But… Financially, there seperate. If franch or Africa or others need help…the USA branch will approve from where that help come from. Or which branch is able to help another branch.

    But… He was referring to I only being deveatating to the France branch. Making the printing and publications harder to produce on in France and for the other satellite branches that work under France.

    Hope this helps clarify some misunderstandings in your article

  • October 14, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Two years after this article was published, seeing the reaction we’ve felt at Spec Pio layoffs in 2008, the Society offering to put up Paterson as collateral for reparations in the Conti case, the recent begging for donations to offset poor money management on JW Broadcasting, the impending Bethel layoffs in 2015 (and the list goes on) I believe the $60 million figure was simply “theocratic warfare” ahem – lying – to make a case that they are an indigent organization with little means, again unable to make such payments, as in the Conti case. Will the court please show mercy? That the Society will go bust any time soon, I fear may be just wishful thinking on our part.

  • August 12, 2016 at 7:37 am

    It’s not surprising to me that the JW’s are experiencing financial hardships. Recently on the JW Online videos one of the governing body members was asking for more donations from its members. But, if it’s what I am thinking, they are beginning to reap what they have sewn and what they have kept secret from it’s members for so long. Their ties and affairs with the United Nations, their bedfellows are now beginning to affect the WBTS. It reminds me of when God allows foes to enter his land in Ezekiel. What do they do? 10 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “It will come about on that day, that [i]thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, 11 and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of [j]unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, 12 to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the [k]center of the world.’ Ez 38 chapter
    It was around that time, in October (wow october) 2001 when people found out about their affair, that the WBTS had to do damage control and in that winter of 2001 had a meeting with all the elders and in that meeting changed the doctrine that the wildbeast was no longer the U.N. but it was the governmental systems. Me being a Jehovah’s witness at that time had me telling an elder, BUT, what tool and who gathers the governments into ONE? The U.N.. It was one that got me expelled. But no doubt they had to cover up and undo what they did with the U.N.. If you read the AWAKE, 1991, sept 8, you will see their first duty as a member of the U.N., doing propaganda for them. Nowhere in those three articles does it mention the Kingdom, Jehovah or Christ Kingdom. It was specifically and carefully worded in such a way, that it made the U.N. shine. The awake magazines have always done grassroots propaganda for the U.N.. Now why would the WBTS do this??? It was to escape the taxation that the U.S. was going to hit ALL religions with at that time. The fallout of televangelists had the U.S. government also going after the WBTS. So rather than placing their faith in Jehovah, they made a pact with the Devil, and joined, pledged allegiance to the U.N. in 1991. This is the reason their financial fall is imminent. If history means anything, their fall could be right in front of them on Av 9. 8-14-16.. Historically, the nation of Jerusalem fell both times on that date. Also, when Jehovah says he is a jealous God, he expresses it in such a way that it leaves no doubt, that there will be ramifications for this treachery. It is the actions and scriptures that back this up. Their trouble financially and other troubles will increase like birth pangs. I still believe in Jehovah, but I also believe that Jehovah is no longer with them and that he has sent his people as in times past into the wilderness just as Rev 12:6 says, that will occur during the final part of the days.

    • August 12, 2016 at 8:33 am

      @Tony, has the Society printed that the U.N. is not the wild beast but the governments? If so, where can we find that? Thanks

  • August 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    The sad part is is that the jw members don’t even realize that their hard earned money is going to these lawsuits they believe what the society says that they have no pedophiles and that every media outlet lies and that apostates lie too unfortunately these witnesses also don’t have money to put to the never ending greed of this org as many witnesses have low paying jobs because they were told not to go to school. I was shocked as to how many witnesses drop out of high school let alone attend college. I was myself broke by the time I left the org.

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