Televangelist Pat Robertson accused of diverting African aid to diamond mine
The Christian Broadcasting Network's Pat Robertson is considering legal action against two filmakers who accuse the televangelist of diverting African charity to personal business projects, including an diamond mining.
In Mission Congo, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, filmakers Lara Zizic and David Turner says that Robertson raised millions of dollars for relief projects in the Congo but diverted planes loaded with aid to mine precious gems.
A spokesperson for Operation Blessing, Chris Roslan, says the allegations in the documentary are false and defamatory. The group is considering legal action.In the mid-'90s during the Rwanda tragedy, Robertson's Operation Blessing was flying relief supplies to refugees in neighbouring Zaire. The chief pilot Robert Hinkle says in the documentary that he was ordered to fly a thousand-pound dredge to suck up diamonds from a river bed to African Development Company, a Bermuda registered company owned by Robertson.
Hinkle says few flights went to people in need and said he was embarrased to have Operation Blessing lettering on his plane's tail.
The Guardian as a good review of the allegations in the film.
Robertson has been accused of aid diversion before. The documentarians base their film on the reporting of Bill Sizemore, a journalist for The Virginian-Pilot. Sizemore reported that Robertson has extensive business dealings with Liberian president Charles Taylor and obtained rights for diamond mining.
Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation (OBI) is a non-profit that began operations in 1978 and is based in Virginia Beach, VA. It has contributed to disaster relief, medical aid and orphan care.