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 8 crore in cash from various premises. Our action is still going on.’’
I-T sources said the Union Home Ministry had earlier cancelled the FCRA account of Believers Eastern Church after it was found that foreign funds originally obtained for charity purposes have been diverted for religious needs. “The Church had got the foreign contributions through the proper channels. But they had diverted the charity funds for religious purposes. Even after the cancellation of the FCRA account, the Church tried to get funds through other trusts,’’ a source said.
I-T officials said they are looking into transactions over the last ten years. The Church had got around Rs 4,000 crore over the years and a chunk of it had gone into construction of institutions and real estate dealings, they said.
“We, prima facie, assume that the Church had invested around Rs 1,000 crore in real estate development. The funds for charity have been used for running churches, which is a religious purpose. As the raids are still on, we cannot come to any conclusion about the magnitude of the violations,’’ said a source.
Yohannan is the head of the Church, which is based in Thiruvalla in central Kerala.
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