Gospel for Asia Again Fails to Produce Promised Evidence

In February 2016, it was learned that Gospel for Asia was removed from membership in the National Religious Broadcasters. NRB membership requires members to demonstrate good financial oversight and GFA had been evicted from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in October of 2015. Thus, GFA was removed from NRB. In response, GFA spokesperson Johnnie Moore told the Christian Post:

Gospel for Asia is 100% focused on continuing its work around the world while working very hard to put an end to the false accusations being continually made against the ministry. Gospel for Asia can document the legal and ethical use of funds donated and clearly answer every question.

GFA’s leaders and spokespersons have repeatedly said they want to provide the information which will establish their innocence. Why haven’t they done so?
Over 2.5 years later, GFA’s leaders still are unable or unwilling to produce materials which could prove donated funds were spent as promised. In the federal fraud case brought by Garland and Phyllis Murphy, GFA’s lawyers recently filed a motion (October 6, 2017) to prevent discovery of the very information GFA’s leaders said in 2016 they wanted to reveal.
In the Murphy’s reply of October 16, 2017, attorney Marc Stanley asked the federal judge to require GFA to supply information which would establish whether or not donations went where GFA promised they would go. Murphy wrote:

In sum, there should be no further obstacles between whatever the truth is, and the parties and the Court. If the requests for admission will establish that Defendants do not have the evidence of how the donated funds were spent, Defendants should simply admit that. If they will establish that Defendants have such evidence, Defendants should furnish it. Deflections, inaccurate representations, and obfuscation will not substitute for the simple truth the Murphys have been attempting to discover.

The promises from GFA have not been kept. The Murphy motion lays out the promise with the failure to keep it. It seems obvious that GFA eitherPope KP2 doesn’t have the information to answer the charges or is withholding it. Since K.P. Yohannan controls both GFA in the U.S. and Believers’ Church in India, I believe the latter explanation is most likely.
From the motion to order GFA to produce evidence or declare they don’t have it:

The Court then specifically asked Defendants’ counsel about how the money is tracked:
THE COURT: All right. Mr. Mowrey, you apparently—your clients apparently track donations received by these different categories. Help me
understand the methods that they use to track their disbursements or their expenditures by purpose.
MR. MOWREY: All right, your Honor. Yes, and I will answer that question.
Transcript [Doc. 37] 18:25-19:4.
But the question was never answered. And, with the benefit of two weeks from the time of the conference to submit a written response, Defendants have come no closer to furnishing an answer. All of the verbiage in their response says nothing remotely definitive or clear about how they track expenditures by purpose, much less whether they have such evidence (or, if so, when they will produce it). Either Defendants have the information or they don’t—only they know the truth. If they don’t, they should simply say so.
As Your Honor observed in addressing Defendants’ counsel:
THE COURT: They have a right to acquire it independently; and to the extent that you don’t have the documentation and you do not control in any manner production of documents that have been requested, then I get it. You may not be in a position to provide documents that you don’t have access or control over; but if that’s the case, that’s your response.
Transcript [Doc. 37] 28:15-21.
Instead of giving that response—which the requests for admission would elicit— Defendants insinuate in their brief that they may now attempt to reconstruct some type of accounting from information they (maybe) receive from entities they (supposedly) do not control. But that is not relevant to whether Defendants in fact discharged their obligation to track the donated funds over the last several years (at least through the agreed-upon discovery period of 2009 to Q1 of 2016) and ensure that they were spent as donors designated.
In addressing the Court at the telephone conference, Defendants’ counsel reaffirmed (at least indirectly) that they can corroborate or verify how the donated funds were actually spent:
THE COURT: You’re describing for me somewhat of a shell game inasmuch as if a donor were ever to say, “How can I know that the money that I designated for ministry tools actually went to ministry tools,” and you’re saying, “Well, we can’t prove that. You’d have to ask the people that we gave it to,” who, by the way, are foreign companies or foreign entities or foreign individuals.
So if that’s what the response is, then are you telling me that there is no accounting or accountability mechanism from the people that you forward money to in Asia to corroborate or verify that they are spending the money in accordance with your donors’ intentions?
MR. MOWREY: No, your Honor, I’m not saying that….
Transcript [Doc. 37] 22:2-15.
But Defendants’ response sheds no light at all on what the mechanism is. It obliquely says that more documents may be coming (who knows when), but it also says that “the situation in the Field is complex,” suggesting otherwise. Interestingly, the main “complexity” Defendants cite is “to ensure that the Field partners’ FCRA status is not jeopardized.” Response [Doc. 39] at 6. (“FCRA” is the Indian law requiring registration of entities that receive foreign donations.).
Yet, on the very day Defendants filed their response, The Times of India reported: “The Believers Church, founded by K P Yohannan, and three NGOs associated with it have been barred from bringing in foreign funds to India with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelling their FCRA registrations.”
The Times of India report also quotes Believers Church spokesperson Fr. Sijo Panthapallil: “Our FCRA registrations are under revision for the last one year. They had sent us a letter asking for documents and we have submitted the required documents.” Fr Panthapallil said they had submitted a huge cache of documents, weighing 60kg, to MHA two months ago. “Then they demanded four further documents, which we had submitted on September 4, 2017,” he said. Might the 132 pounds of already-compiled documents (plus four further ones) sitting in the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs have any bearing on what happened to the donated funds? Or are they all completely irrelevant? Whatever the truth is, only Defendants know, but at least obtaining answers to questions like this won’t jeopardize the Field partners’ FCRA status, as the MHA had already suspended it.
In sum, there should be no further obstacles between whatever the truth is, and the parties and the Court. If the requests for admission will establish that Defendants do not have the evidence of how the donated funds were spent, Defendants should simply admit that. If they will establish that Defendants have such evidence, Defendants should furnish it. Deflections, inaccurate representations, and obfuscation will not substitute for the simple truth the Murphys have been attempting to discover.

For years GFA has promised the public to clear up the allegations of fraud and yet they don’t produce even an audited financial statement. Meanwhile donor dollars continue to be plowed into legal and public relations maneuvers to keep the evidence from seeing the light of day.

Why Hasn’t Gospel for Asia Told Donors about Cancelation of Charity Registration in India?

At the beginning of October, The Times of India reported that the Indian government canceled the charity registration of Believers’ Church. BC is the field partner of Gospel for Asia in the United States. GFA is the second largest missionary organization in the U.S.

According to the report in The Times of India, Believers’ Church acknowledged that the church was not bringing in foreign funds.

Fr Sijo Panthapallil, spokesperson of Believers Church, told ToI over phone from Delhi: We are not bringing foreign funds, as there is a standing re vision order [on the FCRA registrations, normally given for a five-year period and then renewed thereafter.]”

If BC (along with Gospel for Asia –now known as Ayana Charitable Trust — and other related trusts) is bring money into the country, then why hasn’t GFA alerted international donors? There is no assurance that funds now being given for India will get there. And yet, GFA continues to raise money as if those funds are all going to “the field.” The image below is from GFA’s website.
GFA Sponsor Missionary
I searched throughout the GFA website but found nothing about the cancellation of GFA’s registration on the field. Perhaps GFA is sending the money to other Asian countries or other obscure affiliated charities. However, donors should know what is happening.

Why Not Tell Donors?

Currently, GFA is being sued by two couples in separate fraud cases in part because the donors believe their funds were not dispersed as they intended. It seems to me that GFA is setting themselves up for more such accusations by not telling donors that the funds for Indian missionaries, Indian children sponsored through Bridge of Hope, and other India-specific donations have been restricted from India.

In contrast to GFA’s silence, Compassion International has been quite vocal about the fact that the organization’s registration in India was .removed. For CI, the blow isn’t as dramatic since their operations are worldwide. However, most of GFA’s work in in India and their founder, K.P. Yohannan is a native of the Indian state of Kerala.

Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.
Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.

CI has offered donors the option to sponsor children in other nations and has been up front about it. GFA, on the other hand, has done nothing to alert donors who continue to give as if their funds are allowed to go into India. Compassion and GFA were registered under the same Ministry of Home Affairs and the removal of that registration has the same implications. Compassion is being candid and transparent; GFA is not.

Church of South India Sued by K.P. Yohannan and Believers' Church

Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.
Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.

In a shocking move, the Believers’ Church in India led by their Metropolitan bishop K.P. Yohannan has sued the Church of South India for defamation. According to Christian Today, the Church of South of India, affiliated with the Anglican Communion, doesn’t recognize Yohannan as a bishop. Recently, the CSI publicly said the church only sees Yohannan as a layman and not a bishop. For that reason the CSI pulled out of the National Council of Churches in India.
The CSI has never recognized Believers’ Church which has been a source of conflict among Indian Christians. Believers’ Church has now accused CSI of defamation.
This lawsuit comes just days after Believers’ Church and three other affiliated charities were stripped of their government registration to receive foreign funds. This means they are no longer able to accept foreign funds for their charitable work in India. They continue to operate on the funds raised in India.
The aggressive action by Believers’ Church comes as former donors have filed two fraud and corruption lawsuits against Gospel for Asia, the U.S. sister organization. Both groups were founded by K.P. Yohannan.

Implications for Gospel for Asia Donors

Donors should be aware that the two major organizations run by K.P. Yohannan — Gospel for Asia and Believers’ Church — are now engaged in funding three lawsuits. This means that donor funds will be used to either fund legal action or to subsidize other activities while other funds are used to pay attorneys.

Believers’ Church Seeks to Silence the Largest Protestant Church in India

It is mind blowing that Believers’ Church has willingly sued the largest Protestant church in India for exercising religious liberty.  The CSI believes K.P. Yohannan isn’t a bishop. That is within the right of the CSI to administer those offices as they believe is right. The Believers’ Church lawsuit sets a dangerous precedent. Will Hindus now sue Believers’ Church for suggesting that Christianity saves and Hinduism doesn’t? A church suing another church over speech is scandalous and should be widely condemned.

Plaintiffs in Gospel for Asia RICO Suit Move to Add Related Entities to Case

K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube
K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube

In the event they prevail in their RICO suit against Gospel for Asia, the plaintiffs want to add GFA’s numerous related entities to the list of defendants.  In a motion filed on October 4, Garland and Phyllis Murphy want the federal court to allow any judgment against GFA to apply to the many organizations around the world controlled by K.P. Yohannan and the GFA board.
 
According to the motion:

Discovery is far from complete, but the Murphys have learned of at least 76 entities (thus far) that may prove to be alter egos of named Defendants GFA, Inc., K.P. Yohannan, and/or family members and close associates of Yohannan. (p.1)

The attorneys for the plaintiffs want the court to consider applying any verdict favoring the plaintiffs to these related entities, also known as alter egos.

…the best course of action under these circumstances is to address alter ego issues only if the Murphys first obtain a judgment against the named Defendants.2 But because the case management order is silent except for the approaching deadline to add parties, the Murphys—for clarity and out of caution—now ask the Court to explicitly build an alter ego phase of trial after verdict into the case management order. (p. 1-2)

The request is designed to protect against GFA moving assets to a related entity which has not been named as a defendant in the case. Since K.P. Yohannan and family are on the boards of these related entities, it is plausible to think they might move assets away from GFA to shield them from a judgment.

Lawyers Deny Yohannan Controls Related Entities

In a related response from GFA’s attorney’s filed on October 6, the defense team again asserted that K.P. Yohannan does not have control of entities in India.

The Field Partners are separate legal entities with their own governing boards. They are not controlled by GFA-USA or K.P. Yohannan, and thus Defendants do not have the authority to simply order them to produce documents. This separateness is important in India. (p.4)

GFA has yet to produce any proof that K.P. Yohannan has relinquished his control of Believers’ Church or any of the entities under their umbrella. According to numerous Believers’ Church documents, Yohannan is the supreme authority over the church and has the final word in matters of temporal and ecclesiastical control. As late as 2015, court documents in India refer to Yohannan as the managing trustee of Believers Church.

Alter Egos Listed

In Exhibit A of the motion to add alter egos, seventy-six possible entities are listed. They are:

1. Believers Church – India
2. Gospel for Asia – India (n/k/a Ayana Charitable Trust)
3. Last Hour Ministry
4. Love India Ministries
5. Believers Church
6. Believers Church – Bangladesh
7. Believers Church – Myanmar
8. Believers Church – Nepal
9. Believers Church – Sri Lanka
10. Gospel for Asia – Bangladesh
11. Gospel for Asia – Nepal
12. Gospel for Asia – Myanmar
13. Gospel for Asia – Sri Lanka
14. Gospel for Asia – International
15. Gospel for Asia – United Kingdom
16. Gospel for Asia – Germany
17. Gospel for Asia – Canada (n/k/a GFA World)
18. Gospel for Asia – New Zealand
19. Gospel for Asia – Australia
20. Gospel for Asia – South Africa
21. Gospel for Asia – South Korea
22. Gospel for Asia – Finland
23. Gospel for Asia, Inc. (TX Corp)
24. Gospel for Asia 75 LLC
25. Gospel for Asia 275 LLC
26. Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship
27. Bridge Builders, LLC
28. Cup Of Blessing, LLC
29. Grace in Action, LLC
30. In His Steps, LLC
31. Peace Givers, LLC
32. Road to Peace, LLC
33. Shepherd’s Care, LLC
34. Teaching Skills, LLC
35. Unconditional Love, LLC
36. Unfailing Love, LLC
37. Voice of Love, LLC
38. Way of Hope, LLC
39. Little Hills (Canada)
40. The Blind See (Canada)
41. The Lame Walk (Canada)
42. Lift Up Their Voices (Canada)
43. Growth in Fraternity Trust
44. Shekina Prophetic Mission Trust
45. New Hope Foundation
46. Holy Spirit Ministries
47. Rehaboth Indian Gypsy New Life Trust
48. Arul Shelter Home Trust
49. NISSI
50. POET
51. Heavenly Grace Ministry
52. Bridge of Hope
53. Cheruvally Rubber Estate
54. Believers Church Theological Seminary
55. Believers Church Residential School
56. Believers Church Residential School Tiruvalla
57. Believers Church Vidya Jyothi English School
58. Believers Church Mahatma Public School, Chavara
59. Believers Church Mahatma Central School
60. Believers Church Mulamanna VHSS
61. Believers Church Residential School, Orissa
62. Believers Church Residential School, Allapuzha
63. Believers Church Holy Angels Public School
64. Believers Church Grace Garden Public School
65. Believers Church Medical College Hospital
66. Caarmel Engineering College
67. Athmeeya Yathra Media
68. Athmeeya Yathra Television
69. Athmeeya Yathra Radio
70. AY Broadcast Foundation
71. Believers Church Medical Centre, Purulia, West Bengal
72. Believers Church Medical Centre, Konni, Kerala
73. Asha Grih Children’s Homes
74. Dora Microfinance
75. Gospel For Asia Football (soccer) Club – Myanmar Premier League
76. St. Johannes International School Rajasthan

Despite Denials, Trust Documents Show K.P. Yohannan is Supreme Authority over Believers' Church

KP Head of Church
For over a year, I have been looking for the deed of the Believers’ Church trust. I wanted to find it because I felt sure that it would demonstrate that CEO and founder of Gospel for Asia K.P. Yohannan was on the board of Believers’ Church. Since Yohannan once claimed he didn’t sit on any controlling boards in India, I wanted the trust document to check on that claim. More recently, a lawyer defending Gospel for Asia against fraud charges also claimed Yohannan doesn’t sit on boards of GFA affiliated organizations in India.

Denials from the Supreme Authority and His Lawyer

First, Yohannan made the claim in May 2015 in a staff meeting:

And by the way, just so you know, I am not legally on any boards, any trusts, anything in any of these countries. I have no powers to make decisions or sign money, or release money, or make decisions, I am completely legally…why? Because anybody who work in the United States or overseas countries have a board membership or have legal membership should not be part of their legal entities in India. It’s a conflict of interest and therefore we send the funds and it is immediately under the government watch care and the government of India is responsible and investigative agencies and tax divisions to make sure  that is carried out within the time frame or whatever they do, that is a public thing.

In May of this year, attorney Robert Mowrey made the claim in an Arkansas federal court.

Here is the big issue, and it doesn’t really have to do with bifurcation, but I think that the Court should give us some guidance on this today. If you look at their case management plan, we could go through. They have four pages, and we’re going to produce most all the things that they have asked for, except the problem that we have, Mr. Stanley [attorney for people suing GFA] has mentioned over and over how K. P. Yohannan just controls everything. There are many — there are entities in India: The Believers Church, GFA-India. K. P. Yohannan is not on the board of those entities. Is he the metropolitan? Yes, he is the Metropolitan of Believers Church. Does that mean he has access to all of their records? No, it doesn’t.
Now, Mr. Stanley doesn’t believe that. Mr. Stanley thinks that whatever K. P. Yohannan wants, he can get; but we have no problem in producing everything we can with respect to the entities that he has sued. But when it comes to wholly separate entities in India, that’s where the rub is.

In past articles, I have produced ample evidence that Yohannan is on the GFA (now Ayana Charitable Trust) board, the Believers’ Church board, the Bridge of Hope board, and the board of at least a couple of his for profit schools. Yohannan is listed as owner on the deeds to property owned by the church. However, I lacked the trust document which established Believers’ Church in India. Now I have the original 1993 trust document and a trust deed updated in 2004 (click the links to read each one).  Point 10 leaves no doubt who is in charge in the Believers’ Church.
KP Head of Church
These documents show beyond any doubt that K.P. Yohannan is a founding trustee of Believers’ Church and that he remains in control of the business and religious operations. All of the NGOs operate under the umbrella of Believers’ Church and would provide documents for the court action in the U.S. if the Metropolitan Bishop ordered it so.
The list of GFA trustees in 2004.
GFA 2004 list of trustees
It is possible that another deed has been filed since 2004. However, if that is true, it should not be difficult for fellow Patheos blogger K.P. Yohannan to produce it. He is, after all, the “constitutional head” and “supreme authority of the Church” who holds “the final word on all matters whether concerning policies or theological beliefs and activities of the Church.”
 

Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan: Welcome to Patheos!

Allow me to be among the first to welcome Mark Driscoll and K.P. Yohannan to Patheos!

Mark Driscoll announced his new blog today via the Patheos Evangelical Facebook page. Watch:

Judging from a couple of tweets I have seen (for instance here), he must have announced on Twitter too. I wouldn’t know it since he blocked me a long time ago after I wrote a few articles about him and his former church.

Screen capture from Mars Hill Church video, 2014
Screen capture from Mars Hill Church video, 2014

We are now practically neighbors!

K.P. Yohannan isn’t as well known as Driscoll in the U.S. but he is the Most Reverend Eminence in India.
Pope KP2It will be interesting to see if Yohannan blogs about his organization’s legal troubles and trial preparations.  It will give readers a couple of different perspectives to read about it there and here.
Having Yohannan and Driscoll in the family makes me wonder when David Barton and Eric Metaxas plan to join up.

Kumbaya!

After Being Fired, Former Gospel for Asia Employee Looks for Help

Pope KP2Tom Sluberski once was the web director for Gospel for Asia. He has since left and become a vocal critic of GFA. In a GoFundMe page entry, he highlights the case of Michelle Alexander, 72, a former employee at GFA. In a video, Michelle tells a story of being fired after she invested over 12 years and her life’s savings in GFA.
Watch:

Michelle was given 30 days to get off the campus based on a “leadership decision.” She said she was not given a reason. The GoFundMe page begins:

Please help Michele, age 72, she had been with a ministry called Gospel for Asia for 12.5 years. Michele was planning on being at that ministry her whole life, in fact she gave the ministry her life savings. In June 2017 Michele was called into a meeting with HR and told she had 30 days to leave the campus and she was no longer part of the ministry. That was shocking to Michele, she had been recovering from a recent knee replacement surgey and leg surgery. Now she had to pack up and find somewhere new to live. The ministry even took it upon themselves to notify Michele’s supporters that she was leaving, even before they told Michele.

A request for comment or correction was requested from GFA with no reply.

Church of South India Pulls Out of State Council of Churches Over Admission of Believers' Church

The Church of South India was a charter member of the Kerala Council of Churches in India. However, according to a news report in The Hindu, CSI has pulled out of the KCC in response to the admission of K.P. Yohannan’s Believers’ Church into the KCC.
The background of the move involves the insistence by the CSI that Yohannan (also the CEO of Gospel for Asia) was not consecrated officially as a bishop and has no authority as such.

The latest development has to be viewed in the backdrop of the controversy over the episcopacy claims of the Believers Church that its head, K.P. Yohannan, was consecrated by the CSI Church.
However, the CSI has outrightly rejected this claim of the Believers Church, saying that the former has never done such a thing at any point of time.
The CSI Moderator, Bishop Thomas K. Oommen, told The Hindu that the regional forum of the CSI Synod members had unanimously decided to disassociate with the KCC and its programmes.

Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.
Admirer kissing the hand of K.P. Yohannan. From his 2017 birthday video.

Yohannan and several bishops created the Believers’ Church due to the need to have a church in India to receive donations from abroad. However Yohannan claimed recognition from CSI when in fact the relationship is nonexistent according to CSI. The leaders of that denomination felt so strongly about it that they pulled out of the KCC to protest the recognition of Believers’ Church. To CSI, Yohannan is a lay person pretending to be a Bishop.

Social Crusader and Metropolitan K.P. Yohannan Waxes Eloquent about Charity in India

K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube
K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube

Yesterday, K.P. Yohannan, self-styled social crusader and Metropolitan of Believers’ Church, published an article in the Indian online publication Bureaucracy Today on charity finances. Next issue, BT should invite Bernie Madoff to pen an article on business ethics.
 
Some highlights:

However, checks and balances in the NGO space, like in any other system are an integral part of this support mechanism.  Without effective and robust assessment machinery, it will become very difficult to sustain the credibility and utility of NGOs.
In fact, it would be fair to say that scrutiny and regulation of organizations in NGO space is far more critical than that of the private sector. This is because humanitarian organizations compliment and supplement the efforts of the state in a country of the size and diversity like ours. So whereas the government is at the forefront of inclusive growth for all sections of the society, civil society participation becomes imperative to achieve the expected pace of reform. And therefore it is sacrosanct that the credibility of these civil society participants is maintained with full caution in public eye.

This from the leader of an organization who was kicked out of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in October 2015 and sanctioned by the Office of Personnel Management in January of 2016. GFA has not been reinstated to either organization. On the point of credibility in the public eye, GFA has not released an audited financial statement for the past two fiscal years.
Another quote:

There are a host of reasons why the narrative in India has changed to NGO versus state. Whereas some of the NGOs have been accused of funding anti-national activities, others have been accused of financial impropriety. These are grave charges and it is but natural that the relevant authorities have taken timely action to intervene.

This statement comes from the leader of the organization being sued for fraud in the U.S.
As GFA’s lawyer said, I am a blogger that regularly blogs and will continue to remind donors about the “grave charges” until the “relevant authorities” intervene.

Plaintiff’s Lawyer in the Gospel for Asia Fraud Case: Show Us Where the Money Went

“There is a blogger that regularly blogs. I’m certain that there will be something about this hearing on his blog because he follows the PACER regularly in everything that comes out, and there are a group of people that are — they — it’s a little bit of a family feud between these ex-employees and GFA.” – Robert Mowrey, attorney for Gospel for Asia, May 16, 2017. 

On May 16, a hearing was held to set the calendar and procedures for the racketeering (RICO) lawsuit against Gospel for Asia brought by Garland and Phyllis Murphy (See this for an earlier post on that hearing).

I have secured a copy of the transcript of that hearing and plan to bring out some highlights over the next few weeks. I have plenty of time since the hearing isn’t slated to happen until 2019.  One hopes GFA’s leadership will not use donor funds to drag this case out that long, but it appears that GFA and GFA’s well paid lawyers plan to do exactly that.

At the beginning of the hearing, the judge in the case, Timothy Brooks, summarized the allegations and GFA’s denials of the charges. Then the judge gave the Murphy’s lead attorney, Marc Stanley, a chance to present his own summary.  Stanley made the situation simple: Show us where the money went.

MR. STANLEY: Thank you. Thank your Honor. I think the Court summarized the case pretty well, and what I thought would be important for today is sort of defining the different approaches of the two sides in discovery and where we’re trying to go with the case based on the allegations.

From our case, it’s pretty simple. It’s what did the defendants promise the plaintiffs. So, for instance, “Will you give me a thousand dollars for a Jesus Well?” “Yes, I’ll give you a thousand dollars for for a Jesus Well.” That’s the first one.
What did the plaintiffs give and then what did the defendants do with the money? “I give you a thousand dollars; show me it went to a Jesus Well.” Not hard to figure out. Either it did or it didn’t; either they can show it or they can’t.

And then, third, we’ve alleged a RICO conspiracy and fraud because what we allege happened is that a lot of this money did not even go to the field and a lot of this money went into for-profit enterprises like a hospital, a chain of hospitals, chain of educational facilities, a media empire, a soccer team in Myanmar, a railroad plantation. For a long time, there was $287 million on deposit in banks in India; there was $130 million in deposit in Hong Kong. And so what’s going on there?
We allege a RICO conspiracy. The kingpin is K.P. Yohannan, who is the chairman of Gospel for ASIA, Inc., but he’s also the metropolitan of Believers Church, and the metropolitan is sort of like a pope there. The constitution’s very clear — the constitution of the church — that the metropolitan, by virtue of his office, is the president and final authority of the church government, including the managing trustee, the president of all trusts and societies of Believer’s Church, and the custodians of Believers Church at large. And it goes on and on to say he has the ultimate authority of everything that goes on with the church. The properties are in his name, K.P. Yohannan’s name, a lot of the businesses and the properties there. It’s not just Believers Church. There’s also Gospel for Asia-India. There’s also Bridge of Hope Trust. There are a whole bunch of folks that we’re just finding “Gospel for Asia 75 LLC, Gospel for Asia 275 LLC, there’s Way of Hope LLC. We’ve got entities all over. It’s almost like the Enron transactions that we’re trying to unravel.
There’s — we’ve got entities in Germany that formed an alliance with Canada. We’ve got money allegedly going to Sri Lanka and other places. And so what we’re trying to find out is what did the plaintiffs give, what was promised, what did they give and what did defendants do with it. Did it line someone’s pockets; and if that’s the case, then we want them to give it back.

Now, you also said, you mentioned that the defendants’ contention was that all monies were used as the donors specified. If that’s the case, we lose.

This is an easy case. Just show us that the money that came in to Gospel for Asia — right now. I mean, they can — if that’s the case, they could show us tomorrow: The money that came in for Gospel for Asia was spent exactly as the donors said — “we dug this many wells, we bought this many camels, we did whatever else” — and we lose.

It’s not a hard case for that kind of discovery to do it. They should have records of showing, as fiduciaries of the money, what they did with the money.

As Stanley pointed out, GFA could do this tomorrow.  The barrier to discovery is GFA. The primary reason GFA is in the situation they are in is because they won’t do the reasonable thing and show the donors where the money went.

Does Believers’ Church Follow The Church Constitution?

Later in the proceedings, Robert Mowrey, one of GFA’s lawyers said K.P. Yohannan doesn’t have control of matters in India’s Believers’ Church. According to Mowrey:

Mr. Stanley has mentioned over and over how K. P. Yohannan just controls everything. There are many — there are entities in India: The Believers Church, GFA-India. K. P. Yohannan is not on the board of those entities. Is he the metropolitan? Yes, he is the Metropolitan of Believers Church. Does that mean he has access to all of their records? No, it doesn’t.

Now, Mr. Stanley doesn’t believe that. Mr. Stanley thinks that whatever K. P. Yohannan wants, he can get; but we have no problem in producing everything we can with respect to the entities that he has sued. But when it comes to wholly separate entities in India, that’s where the rub is.

K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube
K.P. Yohannan, source: Youtube

Believers’ Church may have altered documents over the last year but at the time the Murphys donated to GFA, Yohannan most certainly was considered the head of the church for spiritual and temporal matters according to the church Constitution (see also this source).  He also sat/sits on the boards of many other Believers’ Church entities (see this post for more information).

I think this will be difficult for GFA’s lawyers to explain.

Stay tuned for more GFA posts from the blogger who regularly blogs.