ED raids CSI church offices in capital
The Law Enforcement (ED) Directorate on Monday carried out simultaneous raids on the office of the South Kerala Diocese of the CSI Church and other places in the district in connection with an alleged money laundering scam. money tied to institutions run by the Church.
The ED team carried out inspections at the office of CSI Moderator and South Kerala Bishop Dharmaraj Rasalam at LMS in the capital, Dr Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College in Karakkonam and the residences of Diocesan Administrative Secretary TT Praveen and Bennet Abraham, the college principal.
The inspection at Bishop Rasalam’s office, which took place in his presence, began at 6 a.m. and lasted until evening. The bishop was to leave for England on Monday. Inspections at other locations continued late into the evening. After the announcement of the inspections, church members gathered in large numbers at the Mateer Memorial Church premises, but no untoward incidents were reported.
Previously, the medical school had been embroiled in controversy over capitation fees. An opposing faction within the Church had made serious allegations of financial misconduct by Bishop Rasalam and senior Church officials. A Crime Branch investigation had also been ordered into complaints about the poll tax scam. The ED, which registered a case, is reportedly investigating money laundering charges.
The Church’s Response
Senior church officials said the ED team found nothing incriminating against the bishop or the diocese. “The inspections were conducted on the basis of fabricated complaints intended to tarnish the reputation of the Church. ED inspections revealed nothing illegal. We have provided all the documents requested by the officers,” said J. Jayaraj, pastoral secretary of the Church. Neither Bishop Rasalam nor Mr. Praveen were available for comment.
Lately the Church has been torn apart by internal differences. Earlier this year, Mateer Memorial Church, a familiar landmark in the capital, also witnessed a confrontation between the two opposing church factions over the decision to elevate it to cathedral status.
Meanwhile, the faction opposing Bishop Rasalam has demanded that he, Mr. Praveen and Mr. Abraham leave their official positions in view of the ED action.