Guru: Blow off taxes

The New York Post/January 31, 2011

By Jeane MacIntosh

The leader of an Albany "cult" financed by the Bronfman booze fortune urged followers to dodge taxes, used charity funds to score himself a pricey grand piano and dispatched top advisors to break into the homes and "sweep" the bank accounts of his detractors, according to a new court filing.

Keith Raniere, who heads NXIVM - a self-help group backed by the multi-million dollar trust funds of Seagram's liquor heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman -- also used a trusted circle of female followers to convince other women to have "secret" sexual relationships with Raniere, sometimes in return for doing business with NXIVM, the document claims.

The filing, in Albany federal court, provides a rare look into the alleged inner workings of the controversial NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um.) The group touts its "ethical" teachings but has been blasted as a "cult" by former members and mental health experts.

Included in the 200-plus page document is a purported breakdown of NXIVM's highly-guarded "business model" - described as a multi-layered plan in which members get commission for recruiting others, and the money flows up the chain to those at the top of the "corporation."

Before starting NXIVM, Raniere ran a multi-level marketing firm that was investigated in 23 states. In 1993, New York AG Robert Abrams ordered the firm, Consumers Buyline, shut down, calling it an "illegal pyramid scheme."

The information is part of a deposition given by Barbara Bouchey, who had been Raniere's lover and the Bronfman sisters' financial planner before she defected NXIVM in 2009.

Oddly, it was NXIVM's own lawyers who entered Bouchey's previously private testimony into the public court record. It was included in a filing to compel Bouchey to be deposed in a separate case NXIVM has against cult watchdog Rick Ross and others.

In her deposition, Bouchey claims:

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