Is Paul Zacharia the tip of the iceberg in abuse of funds collected for charity?
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge sheet against Paul Zacharia, a noted writer from Kerala for embezzling crores of rupees from Christian charitable organizations, collected from foreign countries. Paul Zacharia popularly known as Zacharia is charge-sheeted along with the other five members and Thiruvananthapuram Chief Judicial Magistrate has taken cognizance of the CBI charges and summoned the six accused on February 15. According to the CBI charge sheet, the accused persons have floated two charitable trusts based in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam Districts, namely Good Samaritan Project India, Catholic Reformation Literature Society, and diverted more than Rs.2.10 crore collected from a Holland-based NGO.
The funds were collected for Tsunami relief works in fishermen’s colonies and running a school for disabled kids. As per CBI’s charges, these funds were used to purchase lands in the name of charitable trusts. But the lands were sold later and accused persons pocketed the money. The donor Holland-based NGO Word and Deed (W&D) also complained to CBI after a series of complaints came from Kerala for cheating and misusing funds received for charity from abroad.
Apart from Zacharia (76), other accused persons are K P Philip, Abraham Thomas Kallivayalil, and Capitan Jojo Chandy. Using funds from a Holland-based NGO, the trust headed by the accused persons purchased four-acre land in Kochi to set up a school for 300 disabled, orphaned kids including rehabilitation of kids from the street. The controversy started when the school was closed and the poor kids were transferred to government schools and land and building were sold to private parties. Many board members in the Trust started complaining after this incident. The accused persons also face diverting the funds in other projects also in the name of charity.
The then Kerala Police Chief T P Senkumar ordered for probe and foreign fund misuse crossed more than one crore rupees, the case was shifted to CBI. Writer Zacharia is a popular figure in Kerala’s cultural activities and preached for so many progressive things and is now caught up for fund embezzling from charitable activities.
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