Controversial Filipino megachurch Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who was arrested by federal agents in Honolulu, Hawaii, last year after weapons and $350,000 were found on his private jet, has been accused of previously smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the country.
Quiboloy, who founded the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, which he claims has 4 million tithing followers in the Philippines and 2 million more in other countries including the United States, allegedly smuggled money out of the country on two separate occasions in 2013 and 2014, Hawaii News Now reported.
Former church member Kristina Angeles said she witnessed Quiboloy and Felina Salinas, a manager for the Hawaii branch of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church, order “church members [to conceal] U.S. currency in black socks,” during the noted time frame, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Albanese wrote in court documents. “The socks were packed in a suitcase which was transported to the Philippines.”
Salinas, who was arrested with Quiboloy and four others in February 2018, was charged with trying to smuggle more than $300,000 in cash which she claimed at the time of her arrest was hers.
Officials say no one from the church had declared the cash even though it is against federal law to take more than $10,000 out of the country without declaring it.
Salinas’ attorney, Michael Green, argued that Angeles has given conflicting accounts about the amount of money that was allegedly smuggled.
“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.”
Albanese further alleged that Angeles was charged in state court for sexually abusing a young girl who was a member of the church.
A federal prosecutor argued that the state charges might be based on perjured testimony from the mother of the alleged victim cited in text messages. Both the mother and alleged victim are also members of the church.
“Please sis do something … everything in your power to speed this up … Please deport her ASAP," Salinas said in one text message, urging the victim’s mother to prosecute Angeles.
“I cannot sleep thinking I have to lie in federal court … I have never done that ever in my life," the mother responded in what the prosecutor argues appears to be an acknowledgement that she gave false testimony.
Quiboloy, who is a former member of the United Pentecostal Church, founded the Restorationism church in 1985 after he said he received a calling from God. According to Asia Times, God came to his mother in the form of a cloud after he was born, and declared, "That's my son."
Since then he has grown wealthy and counts Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as a longtime friend.
He argued in a 2010 interview with ABC News that every member of his kingdom shared his wealth and is welcome to stay at his mansion. He further noted that God revealed to him in 1983 that he should own a jet and said everyone should accept what they get from God in life, even if it is poverty.