A heavy funded missionary organization that based in Kerala, India, have to face accusations in Canada for misusing multi-million dollars in charitable donations while a class-action lawsuit, with a similar premise, has been filed against it in the US court.
Gospel for Asia (GFA), with its headquarters in Texas, was started by Kerala-born Yohannan Kadippiaril Punnose (K.P Yohannan) in 1978. Since, it has burgeoned with branches in countries like the US, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Finland, and other countries too.
Complaints against the evangelical group’s functioning have multiplied in North America. Among the complainants is Bruce Morrison, pastor of the Christian Fellowship Church of New Glasgow in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
Bruce Morrison (financial analysis) has prepared a 21-page financial report, alleging as much as $128 million in global donations received by GFA during 2007-14 had gone “missing”, reported on The Hamilton Spectator newspaper. The report alleged GFA was “using donations to build a massive for-profit corporate empire in India”.
GFA’s filings with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) show $93.5 million was transferred to India during 2007-14, but “Indian government documents show that no money from Canada was received by the charity’s Indian affiliates during the same period”, the report said. The money had moved to India was not in a legal way.
Bruce Morrison, who has filed complaints with the CRA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), told media, “They received money for one purpose and spent it for another. I wrote several letters to them (GFA), but never really got good answers.”
Another complaint has gone to CRA’s Charities Directorate from Djordje Novakovic and Garry Cluley, a former board member of GFA Canada, who stated in a letter it was his belief that “a full investigation into financial and other practices by GFA is needed”.
The CRA does not comment on individual cases and the RCMP refrains from comments unless charges are filed in a case.
GFA’s Hamilton, Ontario-based Canadian operations head Pat Emerick responded in an email: “The accusations are not true, even absurd, and we’ve communicated that clearly.” The fund they had transferred to India is an illegal action.
Emerick also told the Spectator “all proper reporting has been done according to Indian law” and that GFA has “complied with all Canadian law for charities, and funds sent to the field have been accounted for”.
Warren Throckmorton, who had tracked GFA’s activities in India and Canada since April last year and made report extensively on the issue on Patheos, a website devoted to faith-based issues, said, “Despite all these urgent appeals, they weren’t spending nearly as much as they were raising. Those are to me scandalous aspects of the situation.”
He argued that while money was being raised in Canada, that wasn’t reflected in foreign contribution filings in India in recent years. It must have used in cash out.
A case was filed recently against GFA in the US District Court in Arkansas, with lead plaintiffs Jennifer and Matthew Dickson alleging that funds received for charitable purposes had been diverted “to buy and run for-profit businesses; to build an expensive, secluded headquarters and personal residence; to sponsor an international sports team, and to speculate in financial markets”.
In October 2015, the Virginia-based Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) “terminated” GFA’s membership “for failure to comply” with standards relating to financial oversight, use of resources and governance, among other reasons.
GFA representatives in Kerala did not respond to several requests for comment.
Photo credits: FB