Priest in tsunami scam

via Deccan Chronicle - Chennai Edition published on August 5, 2006

A 45 year old self-styled bishop of the Molin Vision Church in Mahabalipuram, about 45 Km away from here, has been arrested by the police for allegedly cheating contractors of Rs. 7 Crores, which he collected from them as earnest deposit money for a project to construct houses for tsunami victims.

 

The project never took off. On the other hand, instead of building shelters for tsunami victims, Bishop Daiva Anandaraj alias Bishop Anandaraj bought land in the name of his wife and daughters, the police said.

 

Three contractors who had given the bishop nearly Rs. 2 Crore, decided to approach the police two weeks ago when he disappeared with his family after closing down the church.

 

The contractors identified as Joshua from Andhra Pradesh, Sivakumar from Tirunelveli and Ganeshan from Dindigul gave the deposit money to the bishop after an advertisement appeared on behalf of his church talking about a plan to build 9,500 houses for tsunami victims in various coastal districts of Tamil Nadu.

 

When the contractors realised that the project was a non-starter they decided to approach the police. “The bishop had only built around 44 houses on 3 acres of land belonging to gypsies and there was no progress otherwise on the project. Although he had purchased land in different districts, all the properties were registered in the nmes of his family members”, the police said.

 

After the police began its search for the bishop, and news about his church in Perur on East Coast Road in Muttukadu being shut down spread more complaints started coming in. “At present he seems to have swindled more than Rs. 7 Crores”, the police said. The bishop was traced and arrested on Thursday night in Chennai by the Mahabalipuram police who later produced him in a court in Thirukazhukundram. He has been remanded to judicial custody.

 

The police is on the look-out for the bishop’s wife Daisy, his three daughters Sara, Ruth and Choice besides one of his sons-in-law identified as Xavier in connection with the case. Besides family members seven associates of the bishop are also wanted by the police

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