National media attention focuses on allegations of mishandled donations.

The federal government has launched an investigation of International Christian Aid (ICA)—also known as InterAid—a relief organization headed by L. Joe Bass. The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles is coordinating the probe, which is being conducted by a task force representing several federal agencies, including the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service.

The investigation began after a barrage of news media reports cited allegations that ICA mishandled money raised for relief work in Ethiopia. Bass called the press attention a “witch hunt.” In addition, the Camarillo, California-based organization distributed financial statements for 1983.

Ventura County (Calif.) District Attorney Michael Bradbury says his office has been investigating ICA for a year. Bradbury’s spade work led to meetings with officials from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Customs Service. “We think we’ve uncovered enough to justify a full-scale investigation,” Bradbury said.

Recent complaints against ICA are among the most severe the organization has weathered in more than 20 years of controversy. CHRISTIANITY TODAY reported on ICA’s previous scrapes with the law and with numerous former employees (CT, Apr. 13, 1973, p. 44; Mar. 2, 1979, p. 50).

In the recent controversy, the New York Times was the first to report that the group could produce only scant evidence that any money it raised to feed starving children in Ethiopia had reached that country. A spokeswoman for World Vision, a Christian relief-and-development organization working in Ethiopia, confirmed that observation. “Our field workers have never seen [ICA workers] ...

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