I’m looking forward to financial statements from Answers in Genesis

And that’s just weird. Accounting and finances bore me, but there’s something funny going on with AiG and the Ark Park. I expressed some mild skepticism about Ken Ham’s claim that the debate with Bill Nye brought in enough money to fund their theme park; it just seemed odd that a project that had been languishing in the doldrums for years and was facing imminent cancellation could be so revitalized by a debate that their founder lost. Suddenly AiG has gotten awfully cagey about saying how much they’ve raised, as well.

They still aren’t saying. But I thought this brief statement was suggestive. This is AiG replying to a question about how much was raised to meet the requirements for advancing construction.

Mike Zovath, the Ark project coordinator, said the minimum amount was sold, which constituted most of the bonds, and AiG purchased some. They did not provide exact figures.

They aren’t saying! They aren’t saying anything at all! But that one phrase in there, that AiG purchased some of the bonds, is suggestive: AiG and the Ark Park are supposed to be independent ventures. It looks like maybe someone did some creative accounting and shuffled funds from one enterprise, Answers in Genesis, to another, the Ark Park, to meet minimal requirements for the project.

If that’s the case, it means that their progress towards building their silly theme park may look like a win for them, but what they’re really doing is gambling the whole of Answers in Genesis on its success.

Which is why I would really like to see their financial disclosures. I wouldn’t be surprised if their tax forms for this year reveal a massive loss for AiG.


  1. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Very interesting, that is. Popcorn is in the microwave!

  2. palewarrior says

    Apparently they were about $25M short on their bond offering, so I would guess they used the $15M from their previous fundraiser to buy bonds and kicked in $10M of their own money. That would leave them still short $15M on their cost estimate of around $70M for the project. Which would explain why they’re trying to raise $15M in donations and memberships.

  3. says

    They had to buy some of the bonds themselves, just to reach the minimum number required to start construction? Translation: They didn’t get the funding they needed, so they’re paying the difference out of their own pocket.

    I agree. It’s going to be highly interesting to see just how much of AiG was sold down the river to make the Ark Park happen.

  4. jnorris says

    I wonder how much of AIG and The Ark Park’s real estate can be cheaply repurposed into something useful after the bankruptcy sell off?

  5. raven says

    There is a a lot of self dealing going on and some complicated financial arrangements. This is always a red flag for investments. Last time we saw this on a large scale was when the Wall Street banks and brokerage houses went BK and had to be bailed out with a trillion USD in federal money.

    1. Reports are that AIG itself doesn’t have all that much cash from their Form 990.

    2. Noah’s Ark park in Kentucky will be built, officials say – USA Today
    www. usatoday. com/story/news/nation/2014/02/…/ark…park/5881323/‎

    4 days ago – Noah’s Ark park in Kentucky will be built, officials say … $14.4 million in private donations raised.

    3. The Ark Park had already raised $14.4 million in donations.

    4. I’m wondering if they just used that $14.4 million to buy the bonds?

    5. If so, they really haven’t gained much. They’ve converted funds from private donations to bonds they own which is a net gain of zero. Unless they can sell the bonds later in market transactions, although there might not be a secondary market for these bonds.

    The fact that all these arrangements are opaque and AIG and Ark Park aren’t saying much isn’t a good sign. If they had good news to report, they would report it.

  6. says

    If they are related entities they should do consolidated statements. Strictly speaking they don’t have to publish them at all though, as they are not a publically traded company. I can’t find their financials out there–the IRS form 990 yes, which has some data, but not the actual balance sheets.

  7. keith says

    Investing in the Arkpark won’t result in an immediate financial loss. Presumably they are taking current assets such as cash or bonds and investing them in the Arkpark. If so, they are simply moving their holdings around from a safe asset to a foolish, risky one. The loss will show up in future years when they have to write off the investment.

    They might have created a different type of bond for themselves too. If the Arkpark fails, the way they were structured the average bond holder will lose everything, but AIG may hold bonds that use the real estate as collateral.

  8. gussnarp says

    The more money of their own they pump into this thing, the more likely that all Ham’s enterprises will collapse all at once. That makes me happy. And I honestly don’t feel much sympathy for anyone foolish enough to buy the bonds. I do feel bad for the taxpayers of Gallatin County, Kentucky and the state of Kentucky for any of their money that’s been used to promote and support this project, but I felt bad for them anyway.

  9. Brain Hertz says

    Which is why I would really like to see their financial disclosures. I wouldn’t be surprised if their tax forms for this year reveal a massive loss for AiG.

    It won’t show up as a loss for AiG, because it will be treated as an investment. The cash will just move from one column to another, and show up as an asset (the bonds) with the same value as the cash going out the door. It should show up as a debt item for the Ark Park, though.

  10. says

    Reports are that AIG itself doesn’t have all that much cash from their Form 990.

    Their 2012 form says they’ve got net assets of just under $18 million. Interestingly, they ran at a loss that year; almost $400,000 in the red.

    The Ark Park had already raised $14.4 million in donations.

    I think the “private donations” mentions are indeed the money raised throughout the entire fund raising period. It’s still not clear if any more money came in during the bond sales.

    They mentioned that the “minimum amount” was raised, which presumably is the $24.5 million for building the ark itself. If no new funds were raised, that means that AiG chipped in about $10 million; over half their available funds. That also means they still have about $45 million left to raise, to reach the final cost of $70 million.

  11. raven says

    Strictly speaking they don’t have to publish them at all though, as they are not a publically traded company.

    1. AIG itself is a nonprofit religious organization. A 501(C)3 nonprofit. They should report whatever 501(C)3’s have to report to the IRS.

    2. The Ark Park is a private for profit company. OTOH they just made a public offering of Industrial Development Revenue bonds so they should be reporting whatever the requirements are (if any) for this type of public market activity.

    I have no idea what these requirements would be. There must be a prospectus or something at least for the bond offering.

  12. raven says

    Their 2012 form says they’ve got net assets of just under $18 million. Interestingly, they ran at a loss that year; almost $400,000 in the red.

    Net assets probably includes the Creation Pseudomuseum.

    If that is the case, it’s not cash.

    It’s possible they took our a mortgage on the Creation Pseudomuseum itself. While I doubt the building itself is worth much, it does sit on real estate with improvements, utilities and a parking lot.

  13. stevem says

    The whole purpose of that “Debate” [scarequotes intentional] was simply to be a publicity stunt, and portray themselves as the “underdog”; getting the “generous” bozos to pity them and send them money to soothe their poor, hurt, fee fees. For THAT Nye should be ummm villified; not for being a poor debater; not whether you say he won or lost, but for giving them free advertising, and playing into their “persecution complex”.
    It is time to stop Ham from speaking at all; simply examine his (ledger)books thoroughly and in detail. And just ask him questions About the numbers in there. Keep telling him, “Just the facts, sir, nothing else; just the facts.”
    Stop him playing the “emotions card”. He’s well practiced at that game, like a 3-card-Monte shark. Don’t let him keep playing 3-card-Monte. </rant>

  14. machintelligence says

    Keep in mind that those Industrial Development Revenue Bonds are junk rated and backed only by the prospective revenues of the Ark Park. If it doesn’t get completed, they are so much worthless paper.

  15. says

    501 3(c) file a 990 with the IRS. They range in size from a postcard to a multi-page survey. These are public. AIG needs to use the long one.

    Strictly speaking you don’t need to even audit your financial statements, let alone publish them, unless you are publically traded. Everyone does though because banks and foundations won’t even talk to you unless you have a clean audit. Making them public is up to them. You can see AIG’s 990 on Guidestar but their latest annual report is from 2008.

  16. johnlee says

    The original ark was paid for by prayer, junk bonds, and creative accounting, just like today. I wonder how Bronze Age societies dealt with bad debtors? I think it would be only fair if Ken received whatever kind treatment was on offer to defaulters back then. I’m sure there’s something in Leviticus about it…

  17. Rich Woods says

    @johnlee #17:

    Unfortunately that may be Leviticus 25:39. On one of my less considerate and thoughtful days, I might like the idea of Ken Ham doing tens of millions of dollars worth of community service. Sweeping pavements and scrubbing off graffiti? I reckon he could be doing that until the Last Trump and still be owing.

  18. says

    I want to know, how much do the AiGsters actually pray for this success when they’re at home, out of public view and out of view of their peers? In other words, how many of them really think God would lift a finger to help them, or even that there is a God who does such things?
    The people working for AiG boasting their PhDs don’t have particularly impressive scientific credentials, even disregarding their anti-scientific work. They’re not young anymore. If AiG wasn’t paying them, would they be able to make nearly that money with the same apparently low amount of work? They’re not publishing any new research, much less scientific. All creationist articles I’ve ever seen, which aren’t so few, are just rants about abstracts of scientific papers they’re butchering and misrepresenting, re-layouted old articles from as far back as the 1960s, and dim-witted comments with pretty pictures.
    I get the feeling they’re prepared to throw everything on the table (or each other under the bus) just as long as it keeps them from having to seek a low-paid full-time job in the economy outside the faith bubble, not on a catheter of donations from the fanatic, credulous and miseducated.

  19. anteprepro says

    If they actually manage to try building the Ark, I hope to their God that someone tricks them into Faithfully seeing if the thing is seaworthy. Oh what a larf. Just hope they have enough of a Reasonable Faith to make sure that no one is onboard.