US televangelist Benny Hinn, due in New Zealand in mid February, is going through rough times.

He is currently being investigated, along with five other televangelists by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to determine if the high-profile preachers violated their organizations' tax-exempt status by living lavishly on the backs of small donors. (see Jan 8 post)

But Hinn has now hit more stormy waters. Last week he and another televangelist, I.V. Hilliard resigned their positions as 'regents' (ie directors of the board) at the debt-ridden Oral University, against the backdrop of a spending scandal involving a former president.

Hinn and Hilliard's resignation followed the resignation of another two televangelists as regents in December, one being Creflo Dollar - also under investigation by Senator Grassley.

The resignations follow that of Richard Roberts, who stepped down as university president in November amid allegations he misspent school funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle. Roberts, the son of school founder Oral Roberts, held the position at the 5,700-student school since 1993.

Former regent Harry McNevin, who resigned 20 years ago over what he says was excessive spending by Oral and Richard Roberts, said Thursday's resignations couldn't have come soon enough.

"The whole board needs to go," McNevin said. "I see (the university) as a corporation belonging to the Robertses."

Oral Roberts is a regular guest on Benny Hinn's This is Your Day television programme. Indeed Hinn regards Roberts as a 'mentor'.

Three professors took a lawsuit out against Oral University, alleging wrongful dismissal.

One professor has since been reinstated but his two colleagues are continuing with the lawsuit

In their lawsuit, the professors accused Richard Roberts of spending school funds on shopping sprees, a stable of horses for his family and a Bahamas trip for his daughter and her friends aboard a university jet - all with the university more than $50 million in debt. Richard Roberts has denied wrongdoing.

Oral University officials declined to say whey Hinn and Hilliard had resigned but, as directors, they were directly involved in making major school decisions.


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