IT Dept sleuths unearth Rs 14 Cr Cash from Kerala-based Evangelist

The Income-Tax Department has seized about Rs 14 crore cash as part of its searches against a Kerala-based self-styled evangelist and his group who allegedly siphoned off tax exempted funds and donations received from abroad for the poor, and pumped them into real estate and personal investments, official sources said on Monday.

“The Believers Church and Gospel Asia 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. The search has led to the unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments,” said the Income Tax officials explain the modus operandi for the self-styled Metropolitan K P Yohannan. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also expected to probe into the huge money laundering and routing by this controversial evangelist.

“The evidence found so far indicates that the siphoning of funds in cash may be running into hundreds of crores of rupees. Unexplained cash of approximately Rs.6 crores 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,” said the tax sleuths

The group operates places of worship, a number of schools and colleges across the country, a medical college and a hospital in Kerala," a statement had said.

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