The acquisition of wealth, particularly items of demonstrable value is important to Prem Rawat. In the early days Rawat's western followers justified this acquisitive behaviour in two ways - firstly as a 'realised soul' Prem Rawat was above attachment to the 'baubles' of materialism, secondly that as the Lord of the Universe it was only right that Prem Rawat should have the best of everything. The question of Prem Rawat's personal wealth is currently explained by his followers in terms that he is a 'successful private investor'. The actual sources of Rawat's wealth are threefold:
Personal donations from a broad follower base in the years 1971 -76.
Personal gifts from wealthy followers, including transfers of substantial business interests.
A consistent flow of maintenance support provided via the DLM, Elan Vital and latterly Words of Peace Global organisations in respect of Prem Rawat's promotional activities.
From 1971 to the present, raising funds to support Prem Rawat's lifestyle appears to have been a primary objective of the organisations he created.
Michael Donner, former National Co-ordinator of the US Divine Light Mission Incorporated, told Good Weekend, an Australian magazine, in September 2002:
'There were special fund-raisers for the extravagant birthday gifts. People flying around collecting bags of cash - often over $US 100,000 - for a new car or whatever. The use of the organization to collect and solicit this money was no doubt not too legal.'
In the 1970s and 1980s, Rawat's followers deposited money and gifts such as tape recorders and cameras at the entrance to darshan lines, where Rawat's feet were ritually kissed. According to senior organisers from this era, these efforts frequently saw suitcases of cash transported out of the US, Australia and other countries, for deposit in Prem Rawat's Swiss bank accounts. The amounts in these transfers were as high as $US 300,000.
And another former organiser has written:
'I was deeply involved in the formation of Elan Vital [Prem Rawat's organization] in Australia and the Pacific and I was personally aware of the guiding principles behind the formation of EV which were essentially to create an arms length vehicle for MJ's [Rawat's] work which would support him, his family, his tours, aircraft and anything else he might want and need but in such a way as to allow him maximum legal flexibility and protection... It was well known amongst the higher echelon of premies what EV was all about... You didn't have to be Einstein to work out that everything revolved around supporting MJ's lifestyle at whatever cost.'
Today's climate of stricter governance of non profit organisations has meant that Prem Rawat's organisations should no longer raise funds to support Rawat's lifestyle. However the lack of impartial and independent appointees in the administration of the organisations that support Rawat continues to raise apprehension about the potential for the misapplication of funds. In the late 1990s, the majority of the directors of the Australian Elan Vital Incorporated resigned as a result of concerns that Prem Rawat's beneficial ownership of the Amaroo development in Queensland would place the directors at legal risk.
Direct ownership of the high value assets available for Prem Rawat's exclusive use is achieved via a number of companies controlled by boards of directors comprised of committed followers of Prem Rawat. In the US the primary holding vehicle has been SEVA Corporation of America -Nevada State Business Entity number C4482-1977 SEVA Corporation and its many subsidiaries are or have been the owners of Rawat's numerous residences, including Anacapa View, Malibu USA, and Swiss House, Reigate, Surrey, UK as well as the mega yacht Serenity (Serenity was sold in 2004) plus several Helicopters and executive aircraft. The Gulfstream G550 executive jet - registration number N550PR, which is flown personally by Prem Rawat is 'dry leased' from a bank (the Wilmington Trust), and is operated by 'Prem Rawat and the Priyan Foundation'.
The legal structuring of Prem Rawat's financial interests was conducted by tax lawyer Robert Jacobs, whose was the only non 'premie' name to appear on SEVA documents. From 1975 the legal and financial relationship between Prem Rawat and Divine Light Mission was overseen by Michael Dettmers who split with Rawat in 1987, subsequently the name of media lawyer Alvaro Pascotto has appeared on the documents of corporate recipients of funds donated to support Rawat's activities.
Rawat has established a formal network of 'major donors', who fund his lifestyle via bank deposits, and by making him (or companies he controls) a shareholder in their businesses. The 'major donors' are invited to special conferences with Rawat and also receive front row seats and premium accommodation at his larger events. At one stage in the late 1990s the major donors numbered over 400 but the global membership of the major donors group has fallen significantly as a result of both disaffection from Rawat and personal financial loss in the 2008 economic down turn.
Prem Rawat has been gifted shares in a number of businesses and corporations owned by his followers, the two most notable are the US based Sterling Educational Media and the Deltek Corporation. Sterling Educational Media is the trading name of Amtext an academic book buying business which reportedly underwrote the building of Rawat's US$25 million home, the founder of the company, Charles Nathan is said to have gifted 100% of the company shares to Rawat. The Delaski family who created the Deltek business, is also said to have gifted shares to Rawat with totals worth several million dollars transferred to Rawat via a corporate vehicle named the Onae Trust. The Onae Trust has the same service address as the SEVA Corporation of America.
Many of Prem Rawat's former premie aides and financial advisors have become disaffected from him, their testimony provides evidence of the assets that Rawat enjoys . These include:
Prem Rawat has a preference for lavish accommodation. His backstage area at Ivory's Rock Conference Centre (Amaroo) is essentially a two-storey luxury apartment and his campsite there has a 'space age' barbecue which rises hydraulically with an elaborate 'command system'. His toilet in the same campsite has a bank of electronic controls, and in a previously acquired private jet - a 707 in the early 1980s - he had his followers install a gold toilet.