California attorney general complaint could shut down Olivet University
Higher Ed Dive
March 29, 2023
California officials have accused Olivet University — an evangelical institution under federal investigation for suspected money laundering, visa fraud and other crimes — of violating several state education regulations, portending its potential closure.
Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a complaint earlier this month on behalf of California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. It asks the California Department of Consumer Affairs to suspend or revoke Olivet’s approval to operate because state officials determined the college lacked certain advertised courses, resources to ensure a quality education, and properly trained faculty.
Olivet is also facing scrutiny from its accreditor, the Association for Biblical Higher Education, or ABHE. The institution did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Olivet was founded in 2000 by David Jang, its inaugural president and a well-known Korean-American pastor. It has campuses in several states, but its main one is in Anza, California.
The university has long been embroiled in legal and regulatory troubles. The private nonprofit institution earned national notoriety in 2018, when then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced indictments against the college, which previously operated in New York, and several of its top officials, alleging money laundering.
Two years later, Olivet pleaded guilty to conspiracy charge and falsification of records and was forced to pay $1.25 million in forfeiture over two years.
Then in 2022, Olivet reportedly came under federal investigation, again for money laundering, but also visa fraud and human and labor trafficking. Later that year, New York pulled Olivet’s authority to grant college credit, eventually shutting down its two campuses in that state.
The university’s website now lists it as operating sites in California, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida and Washington, D.C.