Raid At Kerala Church & Recovered 7 to 8 Crores Foreign Funds For Religious Conversion
The Believers’ Church runs a medical college and many other educational institutions in Kerala and other states. It also owns Cheruvally estate in the Pathanamthitta district which has been identified as the location for the proposed Sabarimala airport
The Income Tax Department has raided the premises of Kerala-based Believers Eastern Church, led by Christian evangelist K P Yohannan after it was found that the Church was allegedly diverting charity funds for religious purposes.
An I-T source said, “The raid began Thursday and is still on in Kerala and elsewhere in the country. So far, we have recovered Rs 7 to 8 crore in cash from various premises. Our action is still going on.’
An I-T source said, “The raid began Thursday and is still on in Kerala and elsewhere in the country. So far, we have recovered Rs 7 to 8 thousands crore in cash from various premises. Our action is still going on.’’
An official statement said the searches followed credible information that the group had received donations from foreign countries ostensibly for helping the poor and the destitute and for evangelical purposes. It, however, was siphoning off such tax-exempted funds in cash to engage in unaccounted transactions for personal and other illegal expenses.
The church, according to the statement, operates about 30 trusts that are registered across the country.
“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. During the search, shreds of evidence have been found of systematic inflation of expenses in the purchase of consumables, construction expenses, real estate development expenses, payment of salary, etc,” the statement said.
The raids also unearthed substantial electronic computing and data storage, which is being examined. Further investigations are also on.
The church spokesperson, meanwhile, was not available for comment despite multiple attempts.
An independent denomination, the indigenous church has witnessed massive growth in the last one and a half-decade and its head KP Yohanan is known for his religious discourses. The 70-year-old priest is the founder and president of Gospel of Asia, a large non-profit evangelist organization with the main focus on India and Asia. He has also authored more than 100 books on Christian living and mission.
A controversial religious head, he was in the news when the church brought Chreuvally Estate, a rubber and tea plantation spread over a 10 km radius, from plantation group Harrisons Malayalam Limited. In July, the Kerala High Court had directed the state government not to acquire the land for the airport by force after KP Yohanan moved the court.