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Allegations of corruption against Gospel for Asia reveals links to GAFCON

Allegations of corruption against Gospel for Asia reveals links to GAFCON

By the Rev. Dr. Joseph Muthuraj
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
November 10, 2020

HAWALA: a traditional system of transferring money used in Arab countries and South Asia, whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs an associate in the relevant country or area to pay the final recipient. In India a hawala transaction is punishable under transactions of foreign money Act because unlike a bank transaction hawala gives the option to remain anonymous. (One Crore= USD $1,34,920; UK Pound 1,02,625)

Four members of the Gospel for Asia staff including KP Yohanan attended the GAFCON conference in 2018. GAFCON has close contacts with this church and is developing a working relationship with it.

IT (Income Tax) raids on Christian denomination head K P Yohannan

In a nationwide raid at many States, the Income Tax department unearthed huge amounts of cash and more than 500 crores illegal (hawala) money swindling by the self-styled Christian denomination head K P Yohannan, who is running Believers Church and Gospel Asia.

These organizations have for the past few decades routed millions of dollars to India for religious conversion, basically among Hindus from the lower castes and now face many allegations. This Kerala based evangelist had raised his own denomination and self-appointed as Metropolitan and Income Tax from November 5 conducting raids at his offices in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab, and Telangana. Income Tax found that he floated more than 30 trusts and even deposited money in Kolkata based shell firms for money swindling.

The headquarters of K P Yohannan's organization Believers Church is in Thiruvalla in Kerala. The group operates places of worship, a number of schools and colleges across the country, a medical college, and a hospital in Kerala. Raids were going at 66 places of Yohannan's Churches and other establishments who enjoy big clout and having associations with many top political leaders. For the past 30 years, this group was getting huge sums of money from the USA, Canada, and many European churches for conversion in India.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED, an investigating agency of the Indian Government) is also expected to probe into the huge money laundering and routing by this controversial evangelist.

"The Believers Church and Gospel Asia group operates about 30 trusts, registered across the country, and most of them exist only on paper and have been found to be used for routing the unaccounted funds and for accommodation transactions. It has been found that the modus operandi of the group is to systematically inflate expenses with the help of other parties, who would return the inflated amount in cash through domestic hawala channels to the functionaries of the group. Some of these other parties were also covered in the search action. The search has led to the unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments," said the Income Tax officials explain the modus operandi for the self-styled Metropolitan K P Yohannan. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also expected to probe into the huge money laundering and routing by this controversial evangelist.

"The evidence found so far indicate that the siphoning of funds in cash may be running into hundreds of crores of rupees. Unexplained cash of approximately Rs.6 crores has also been found during the search, including Rs.3.85 crore in a place of worship in Delhi. Substantial electronic computing and data storage has been found, which is being examined. Further investigations are going on," said the tax sleuths.

News by TEAM PGurus

After conducting detailed raids on the premises of self-styled evangelist and Believers Eastern Church founder K P Yohannan at different locations in the country, the Income Tax (I-T) sleuths have found that the group belonging to the evangelist routed unaccounted money through organisations which remained only on paper.

"The group runs about 30 trusts, registered across the country, and most of them exist only on paper and have been found to be used for routing the unaccounted funds and for accommodation transactions. It has been found that the modus operandi of the group is to systematically inflate expenses with the help of other parties, who will return the inflated amount in cash through domestic hawala channels to the functionaries of the group," said an I-T dept communique.

According to the IT department, the searches were carried out based on credible information that the group, which enjoyed exemption under the I-T Act, 1961 as charitable/religious trust, received donations from foreign countries ostensibly for helping the poor and destitute and evangelical purposes but was actually siphoning off such tax-exempted funds to engage in unaccounted cash transactions for personal and other illegal expenses in real estate transactions.

"The group runs places of worship, several schools and colleges across the country, a Medical College and a hospital in Kerala. The action covered 66 premises in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab and Telangana. During the search, evidence of systematic inflation of expenses in consumables, construction, real estate development and payment of salary etc was found. The searches shed light on a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments.

Related documents such as sale agreements have been seized. The group has also inflated the price in real estate transactions to make it appear as though the money received in donations is being spent on the activities of the trusts," the official statement said. "The evidence found so far indicate that the siphoning of funds in cash may run into several hundred crore. Unaccounted cash of approximately Rs6 crore, including Rs3.85 crore from a place of worship in Delhi, has also been seized during the search," the statement said. IT officials said a detailed investigation is on to unearth more shady deals carried out by the group.

-Express News Service, Kochi

PS: Believers Eastern Church is administratively based in the state of Kerala in southwestern India. In 2015, the church reported it was re-organized into 33 dioceses; a decrease from the 36 dioceses reported by Smith in 2009. According to Believers Eastern Church, it claims its membership consists of more than 3.5 million people in 10 countries speaking a hundred languages. The Church has 30 bishops, and the Metropolitan Bishop is Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan).

KP Yohanan was consecrated as Bishop by the Moderator and bishops of the Church of South India. On 6 February 2003, K. J. Samuel, the Moderator Bishop of the Church of South India (a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion), along with the P.M. Dhotekar, Bishop of Nagpur of the Church of North India, and the Bancha Nidhi Nayak, Bishop of Phulbani of the Church of North India, consecrated Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan Metropolitan (formerly known as K. P. Yohannan) as a bishop in Anglican lines of apostolic succession; K.P. Yohannan thereafter became the first Metropolitan of the Believers Eastern Church, and acquired an episcopal polity of ecclesiastical governance.

("Believers Eastern Church", Wikipedia)

The Rev. Dr. Muthuraj, is a former member of St. John's College, Durham and a graduate of the University of Durham, UK. Through his publications, he has been established as a CSI historian who currently writes on the relationship between the united churches and the Anglican Communion. He has been one of the strongest voices in the global theological communion appealing for a renewal of Episcopacy to bring an end to the corruption in the Church of South India.

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