In a first of its kind recommendation, a Church panel probing land transactions sought action against Cardinal George Alencherry under the Church and Civil law for causing loss to the diocese.
This incidentally is the first such recommendation and the case on hand also involves black money. Alencherry is head of the Kochi-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in the world under Rome and is also the archbishop of the Ernakulam archdiocese. He is among the Indian cardinals eligible to elect the Pope.
The archdiocese had last month appointed a six member panel to probe losses suffered by the archdiocese due to dubious land deals since 2015. It was alleged that losses were suffered after the sale of five plots owned by the diocese in several parts of Ernakulam district. It was also alleged that the diocese ought to have received Rs 27 crore. However it received only Rs 9 crore, it was further alleged. There was breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of properties, the report also stated.
The committee also found unaccounted money. The total amount receivable according to the 36 deeds is Rs 13.52 crore. However there was a difference of Rs 13.62 crore between the amount documented and the amount in the curia resolution. This is a serious offence under the Income Tax Act, it was stated.
Further the report stated that Alencherry was directly involved in alienating five plots which were sold after being divided into 36 pieces. The first deed was registered even before it was discussed in the Consulters Forum. The decision of the financial council quoted in the sale deeds is incorrect. The receivable value that was set by the diocese was Rs 27.15 crore, but the value according to the registered deeds was only Rs 13,51,44,260."
The diocese only received Rs 9.13 crore from the "agent". "It is painful to note that at the time of execution of the sale deeds, Alencherry has not assured the receipt of money to the archdiocese," the report further stated.
Alencherry on the other hand would give an explanation to the priests about the report. He would first study the report and then make his stand clear as he has reservations about some findings in the report. He has also sought for time to give his explanation.