Accused cult leader Lakaev is suing former acolyte for libel

The Examiner, Australia/October 17, 2023

By Benjamin Seeder

Alleged cult leader Natasha Lakaev has denied a claim that she burned down the garage of her own bed and breakfast business in Geeveston to collect $80,000 in insurance money.

Ms Lakaev is suing a former member of the Universal Knowledge organisation she founded, Carli McConkey, for libel in the Supreme Court in Hobart.

Ms McConkey, who in 2017 published a book - 'The Cult Effect' - about her experiences as a member of Universal Knowledge, is representing herself in court and has been questioning Ms Lakaev in the witness box for the past two weeks.

On Monday, Ms McConkey asked how Ms Lakaev had come to purchase the Bears Went Over the Mountain bed and breakfast in Geeveston in 2016.

Ms Lakaev said that the property and business had been purchased by her son, Khaney Lakaev for $500,000.

She denied she was the property owner, or that her former partner, Chris Wellington, had paid out the money for the property.

Ms McConkey noted part of the building had been burned down in an arson attack in February 2020.

"I put it to you that you committed arson on your own property, and you collected insurance to the value of $80,000?" Ms McConkey said.

"No, that is completely untrue. It wasn't insured," Ms Lakaev responded.

Ms McConkey asked who Ms Lakaev thought had committed the arson.

Ms Lakaev said: "My thought is that people associated with the extremism you are into did this in hope it would get rid of evidence."

Earlier, Ms McConkey asked whether Ms Lakaev had made an insurance claim for damage to floor tiles in her NSW property, after receiving $70,000 from one of her organisation members as payment for the floor damage.

"No that's untrue," Ms Lakaev said.

The court has previously heard that Ms Lakaev's Universal Knowledge organisation was a doomsday cult that prophesied the end of the world in 2011, and that Ms Lakaev had regularly beaten and abused her acolytes.

Ms McConkey claimed in her book that Ms Lakaev had told members she was was Jesus Christ reborn and one of 12 members of the Intergalactic Council of the Universe.

Ms Lakaev has denied the claims, and is seeking damages for defamation from Ms McConkey, as well as an injunction against further publications.

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