Indian Government Alleges K.P. Yohannan and Believers Church Misused Church Funds

The raids on Believers Church properties in India continued Friday with the Indian government seizing nearly a million dollars in currency and alleging fraud and misuse of funds.

The media in India are reporting the church as a scam:

Trusts formed under Believers Church have received Rs 6000 cr ($810,679,320 usd) from abroad within the last 5 years. As per the law, the foreign fund received for charity must be used only for that purpose and the details must be informed to the government…Irregularities were also found in the accounts produced, reported the IT department.

For copyright reasons, I can’t reproduce them, but in this Mayalayam report, photos of the seized cash are provided.

Although unsourced, this report appears to quote someone from the Believers Church denying that the funds seized in a priest’s car belonged to the church or was any kind of “black money.”

The tax authority released this statement:

The Income Tax Department has carried out search and seizure operations on 05.11.2020 in the case of a well-known self-styled evangelist of Thiruvalla in Kerala and his group of various trusts that enjoy exemption under the Income-tax Act, 1961 as charitable/religious trusts. The group operates places of worship, a number of schools and colleges across the country, a medical college and a hospital in Kerala. The action covered 66 premises located in Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab and Telengana.

The searches were carried out as credible information was received that the group has received donations from foreign countries ostensibly for helping the poor and the destitute and for evangelical purposes, but was actually siphoning out such tax-exempted funds in cash to engage in unaccounted cash transactions for personal and other illegal expenses in real estate transactions.

The 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. During the search action, evidences have been found of systematic inflation of expenses in purchase of consumables, construction expenses, real estate development expenses, payment of salary, etc.

The search has led to unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments. Related documents such as sale agreements, etc have been seized. The group has also inflated the price in real estate transactions to show as if the money received in donations is being spent on the activities of the trusts. 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 crore 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.

See my post from earlier today.

16 thoughts on “Indian Government Alleges K.P. Yohannan and Believers Church Misused Church Funds”

  1. I was on evangelistic team with him in 1969 He was just a teenager.. Straight from the Villages of Kerala..

  2. I have very-little-to-no doubt that the government of India is absolutely right. It has smelled like a scam from the beginning.

  3. Gospel For Asia has become so unbelievable, controversial, and confusing. I was surprising to hear from a recent Bible Answer Man’s Unplugged broadcast when Hank Hannegraaf, the president of the Christian Research Institute, gives his full endorsement of Yohannan and his new book (Never Give Up):
    Former evangelical pastor Francis Chan is also supporting Yohannan:
    The Canadian media has exposed Gospel For Asia’s numerous fraud cases:

  4. Sorry for the typing error.
    In regards to Gospel for Asia, it’s frustrating to see K.P. Yohannan tries to confuse people. I’m even more surprised to see that the president of the Christian Research Institute, Hank Hannegraaf, giving Yohannan full endorsement of GFA and Yohannan’s new book (Never Give Up). Here’s the podcast from the Bible Answer Man’s Unplugged:
    Also, former evangelical pastor Francis Chan gives full support to Yohannan:
    The Canadian government is watching Gospel For Asia’s fraud cases very closely:

  5. Press release from India’s Ministry of Finance 06/11/20


    – The group operates about 30 trusts, registered across the country, and most of them exist only on paper…
    – The action covered 66 premises located in Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab and Telengana.
    – The search has led to unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments

      1. Yes, that is an insane amount of money too. But the election money was (under the rules) collected on the up and up. The problem with Believer’s Church is they appear to have broken India’s money transfer laws. (And, for all we know, they may have done the same on the US side–I do not have evidence of this, but I have to mention it.)

  6. Statement from GFA to The Christian Post:

    “While GFA World is a separate, legal entity operating under U.S. law, and has no offices in India, we have been in touch with our implementation partner in India (Believers Eastern Church) and we understand that most of these reports are based on exaggerated rumors,” the statement reads.

    “This is, they believe, the latest effort in an ongoing smear campaign targeting the ministry by those who are opposed to BEC’s mission in Asia. As an example, there have been attempts by private organizations and mid-level local officials to ascertain church membership rolls and documentation as to when certain individuals joined their Christian community.”

    GFA asserted that Believers Eastern Church “refutes all allegations that there have been any violations of government regulations regarding foreign funding.”

    etc. etc. we are being persecuted.

    1. ‘We are being persecuted!” is GFA/KP’s answer to everything! Makes me sick – there are Christians in the world who are ACTUALLY being persecuted and this continual claim is an insult to their sacrifice.

  7. So where does this put investigations from other countries – UK Charity Commission, Revenue Canada, possibly New Zealand Charity Services?

    While investigations by these countries focus on their own laws, this raid in India didn’t happen on a whim. I would think it would be in the best interest of countries to co-operate with each other on some level.

    What are the penalties in India for fraud and misuse of funds and hawala (which is Illegal in India?)

    1. Canadian lawsuit is ongoing. Not sure exactly where they are in the process, but these things take a lot of time.

      As far as I’m aware, nothing is happening in NZ or the UK yet. As with Canada and the US, it takes a donor willing to step up and begin a lawsuit, since it seems that governments aren’t willing to do anything. That’s not an easy step to take, and it’s a long road.

  8. This may finally be the beginning of the end. Even Al Capone couldn’t get away from the tax man.

    1. I foresee some really big bribes being offered to make this all go away. India is certainly called a kleptocracy for a reason. The sums are not surprising to me. No doubt they total over a billion since day one. That is a lot of money to make the crooked society already filled with bribes and cons everywhere get their gears some major grease.

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