Indian bishop accused of stealing £335,000
The Church of England Newspaper, March 19, 2010 p 7. March 31, 2010
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
A diocesan official has been arrested and a bishop is under investigation by police in India in for allegedly embezzling £335,000 from the coffers of the Diocese of Coimbatore.
On March 8 detectives arrested the former secretary of the Diocese of Coimbatore, D.S. Amirtham, charging him with diverting pensions funds. While serving as director of five diocesan schools, Amirthan is alleged to have siphoned off five per cent of the funds contributed by teachers and the schools into their retirement funds between 2000 and 2008.
In January Amirtham came under police scrutiny after an altercation with the former Moderator of the Church of South India and retired Bishop of Coimbatore, the Rt. Rev. William Moses. Amirtham is alleged to have threatened to kill the retired bishop.
The altercation came after Bishop Moses supported a complaint lodged by members of the diocese with the police against Bishop Manickam Dorai of Coimbatore (pictured) and the bishop’s brother, charging the bishop with colluding in the looting the diocese of 30 million rupees.
Last year charges accusing the bishop’s brother of embezzling funds from a diocesan school were brought to Bishop Dorai by the diocesan Christian Welfare Association. The bishop did not act on the complaints, and told a local newspaper the charges were false and that “there is no truth in it.”
Those complaining of theft wanted “to tarnish the image of the diocese and defame the spiritual head of over 4 lakh (400,000) Christians spread” across the Tamil Nadu state, Bishop Dorai told The Express in an interview published on June 17, 2009.
On Jan 12 police questioned the Moderator of the Church of South India (CSI), Bishop William Gladstone and the church’s treasurer in connection with the allegations. Bishop Gladstone said the CSI synod’s executive committee would await the results of the investigation before it took action.
The Coimbatore affair is the second high profile fraud cause in the last year for the CSI. On Oct 13, 2009, Detectives from the Central Crime Branch of the Madras police arrested the former General Secretary of the CSI along with three members of her family. Dr. Pauline Sathiamurthy was accused of stealing almost £1 million of the tsunami relief funds donated to the CSI by the Episcopal Church.