Kochi: The six-member committee comprising priests and experts which examined the murky land deals of the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church has recommended “legal action according to the law of the church and for violation of civil law” against the people responsible for the crisis created in the wake of the land transactions.
The report having 19 recommendations also called for an independent audit of the land and other transactions of the church by a reputed firm of chartered accountants. “A complete assessment of all financial and land transactions of the Archdiocese could be done in a professional manner to sort out the present issues and to adopt safe and legally acceptable steps in all future transactions”.
The Committee recommended legal action against Saju Varghese for the “recovery of the unpaid sale consideration pertaining to the property near Bharat Mata College, Thrikkakkara and also to recover the advance amount to Saju Varghese and others”.
Another major recommendation called for immediate action to file income tax returns along with audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017 to avoid a huge penalty and other penal provisions. The committee called for appointing a new finance officer with immediate effect “who is an expert in financial matters and has outstanding honesty”.
The committee recommended collecting opinion and creative ideas from priests and lay leaders of the archdiocese at various levels to raise funds for the archdiocese to solve the crisis. Action should be taken to repay the loan liability in various banks to avoid a huge interest and recovery steps by banks, the committee said and pointed out that inter-trust transfer of funds were illegal and should not be promoted in future. Funds set apart for charity should not be diverted for any other purposes, it added.
Detailed financial investigation of the financial transactions of all other associated trusts under the archdiocese and external internal auditing by a reputed firm of chartered accountants on a regular basis in the archdiocese as well as major trusts were the other recommendations.
Documentation of all canonical bodies should be precise and accurate and should stick to the standardized format. Fixed asset register should be maintained immediately to safeguard the precious properties and buildings of the archdiocese.
Recommending the observation of the provisions of canon law and civil law in all future transactions especially by the finance office, the committee also called for an induction programme for members of the financial council. Establishment of vigilance mechanisms and mandatory regular internal auditing for all ecclesiastical institutions was the other key recommendation.
The committee in its report has mainly blamed the failures of Cardinal George Alenchery, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Msg Sebastian Vadakkumpadam and Finance Officer Fr Joshy Puthuva for the land deals and the scandal associated with the deals....