Yohannan’s assets: State to seek Central help in probe

via Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on June 8, 2008

The State Home Ministry would request Central help in the investigations into the assets of “Bishop” KP Yohannan of the Believers’ Church and Gospel for Asia, organisations specialising in prayer-healing and meditation. The decision of the Home Ministry follows a preliminary report submitted after examinations into Yohannan’s huge assets by Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Jacob Punnoose.

The move to go for Central assistance is from the conviction that the State Government alone will not be able to complete the probe as Central rules regarding repatriation of money from abroad are involved in Yohannan’s case. However, the State would be launching an investigation on its own into the matter, and an announcement regarding a Crime Branch probe could be announced soon.

Sources in the State Home Ministry said that details of the examination of Yohannan’s assets would be handed over to the Union Home Ministry soon. The State Home Ministry wants to find out whether Yohannan’s funds repatriated into Kerala were raised legally. A preliminary probe had found that though there were records for repatriated funds of Rs 1,044 crore, there were no evidences to show that most of this money was found on charity activities. Sources said that Yohannan could provide proofs for charity work for Rs 144 crore only.

The preliminary report said that most of Yohannan’s investments were in land and that he had invested several hundred crores of rupees in land purchases. The investigations also found that the gospel worker had involved in a land deal worth Rs 130 crore recently. A Home Department team had found documents of this transaction.

The team has recommended a detailed probe into the purchase of an estate at Cheruvalli, Pathanamthitta from Harrison Malayalam Plantations Ltd. They also found that the “Bishop” had recently purchased 40 acres of paddy farmland in Kuttappuzha near Thiruvalla and filled it with the intention of overcoming the land ceiling imposed by the Land Reforms Act.

The team, which comprised police and Intelligence officials, also found that the entire property of Believers’ Church and Gospel for Asia was held by trusts with Yohannan and his relatives. The asset base of Believers’ Church was Rs 572 crore and that of Gospel for Asia was Rs 472 crore. It was also found that the funds brought from abroad by Yohannan’s trusts had not been used for humanitarian work.

Sleuths and police officials were after Yohannan ever since the current hunt for fake godmen had begun in the State in the first week of May. Other Christian prayer-healing organisations like Swargeeya Virunnu (Heavenly Feast), run by Brother Thanku (Sam Kuruvila) and Brother Thomas Kutty also had come under the police lens. Organisations like Hindu Aikya Vedi and Bharateeya Janata Yuva Morcha had held several protest marches against these institutions.

There were several allegations against Yohannan and his establishments. A recent examination held by the Labour Department had found that more than 100 people employed by Yohannan’s church were working there with no proper documents. It was also found that Yohannan had violated several provisions of Labour rules.

A television channel had recently found the security guards at Believers’ Church using modern wireless communication instruments in violation of the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act. A team of officials had found that Yohannan or his establishments did not possess a licence to keep or operate wireless instruments.

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