Suit: Oral Roberts University Funneled $1B a Year

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A former senior accountant at Oral Roberts University alleges that more than $1 billion annually was inappropriately funneled through the school.

Trent Huddleston claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that he discovered an ”unrestricted” account used to funnel ”unusually large” sums of money through the university each month — which would exceed $1 billion on an annual basis — that wasn’t used for any legitimate university purpose.

University spokesman Jeremy Burton dismissed any wrongdoing, saying the allegations had ”no basis in fact.” John Tucker, an attorney for the university, said the petition appeared to be ”grounded in fantasy.”

Huddleston, who was hired in 2006 and spent 15 months at the school, said he was discharged because school officials feared he would reveal that the account existed.

Named as defendants are Richard Roberts, the school’s former president, and his wife, Lindsay, along with former regents.

Huddleston’s lawsuit, the latest to hit the scandal-plagued university, amended a complaint he filed in late November against ORU.

The initial complaint alleged Huddleston was ordered to help Richard and Lindsay Roberts ”cook the books” by hiding improper and illegal financial wrongdoing from authorities and the public.

It also claimed that he was directed against his will to falsely list thousands of dollars as expenses rather than assets — which were spent remodeling the home of Richard and Lindsay Roberts — in order to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies.

Roberts resigned as president days after Huddleston’s lawsuit was filed. He and his wife have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Burton said the new trustees board was ”committed to resolving outstanding litigation against the university brought under the former administration.”

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AP, via the New York Times, USA
Feb. 8, 2008

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This post was last updated: Sunday, February 10, 2008 at 4:51 AM, Central European Time (CET)