The evangelical ministry Puerta de la Montaña released a statement responding to accusations by the Nicaraguan government against three American citizens and 11 Nicaraguan pastors who were arrested and accused of money laundering.
The church asserts that despite the legal team advising trust in the “legal system,” the government’s political motivations are significant. “Although Puerta de la Montaña’s lawyer and legal team are advising the organization to trust the legal system, there are still doubts. It seems that this could be driven more by political motives than legal ones,” the statement cites.
On January 17, 2024, Mountain Gateway, operating in Nicaragua as Puerta de la Montaña, learned that the Attorney General of Nicaragua is moving forward with charges against three American citizens, Jon Britton Hancock, Jacob Britton Hancock, and Cassandra Mae Hancock, and 11 Nicaraguan pastors from Puerta de la Montaña. The charges include money laundering and organized crime.
It was reported that on Friday, January 26, 2024, the Nicaraguan government conducted the initial hearing against 11 Nicaraguan pastors from Puerta de la Montaña and three American citizen pastors (the latter have not been apprehended).
They mention that “during the hearing, the pastors were not allowed to be physically present in the courtroom; they could only attend via a live video stream. Before the hearing, the judge kept all pastors in custody pending the trial date.”
According to details, Puerta de la Montaña reveals that the pastors’ lawyer requested the presentation of the indictment documents to prepare a defense, but the request was denied again.
“The American pastors from Puerta de la Montaña are innocent and have requested the appointment of a lawyer to represent them in this legal process. Puerta de la Montaña does not understand why this is happening in a country it deeply loves and where it has diligently worked to comply with the norms and laws of the Government,” they state.
Puerta de la Montaña expresses that they have documentation proving that the Nicaraguan government “saw and approved all funds that entered the country, and the organization operated under government supervision to ensure that all funds were used and managed properly.”
In 2023, Puerta de la Montaña carried out eight massive evangelistic campaigns in the country, with the support and assistance of the Nicaraguan government.
Therefore, they claim that the evangelical organization “operated financially under strict accounting of its own personnel and budgetary reviews by the Nicaraguan government to account for every dollar associated with the events.”
In response to the regime’s accusations, where they claim that the individuals were profiting from charity funds, they emphasize that “no member of Puerta de la Montaña has personally benefited from the funds sent to Nicaragua for the ministry’s functions.”
Puerta de la Montaña rejects the accusations
Puerta de la Montaña publicly declared in a statement on January 19, 2024, that they deny these accusations, and the situation saddens them.
“Puerta de la Montaña has diligently followed all legal requirements in the U.S. and Nicaragua applicable to non-profit and religious organizations,” they emphasized.
Since 2013, Puerta de la Montaña “has served the citizens of Nicaragua through discipleship, church planting, clothing the needy, providing food, water, equipment, and disaster recovery assistance, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in massive evangelistic campaigns. The sole motivation of Mountain Gate has been to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ with the people of Nicaragua,” they highlight.