Ex-CSI rep accused of swindling Rs 7.5 cr from tsunami fund

Published 15 October 2009  |  
In what may cause serious embarrassment to the second largest church in India, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Chennai police has uncovered a swindling racket involving even a former general secretary in connection with the tsunami fund.

According to reports, former general secretary of the Protestant Church of South India (CSI), Pauline Sathyamurthy, and her husband, Sathyamurthy had siphoned off Rs 7.5 crore from the tsunami relief fund gathered from the US-based Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD).

The money, the police claims, apart from being spent for luxury goods, was distributed among family members. The police has already arrested Pauline's daughter Benedicta, and a relative Sunil.

An official release from the police said that the two were arrested on October 11 and is lodged in Puzhal jail. The police have recovered two luxury cars worth lakhs of rupees.

The incident came to light after a complaint placed by Moses Jayakumar - the present general secretary of the CSI - who called for an investigation after discovering the lack of transparency in accounts managed by his predecessor during her tenure.

The police claims that the fund meant for building houses for displaced fishermen, buying fishing nets and boats was entrusted to both Benedicta and Sunil who were paid a salary of Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000 per month from that money in addition to luxury cars for official use.

While police are still investigating on the property and assets owned by the accused, a hunt is already on for Pauline and Satyamurthy who are absconding.

According to a leading daily, this is the first major case of tsunami-rehabilitation related fraud in Chennai.

The Church of South India is the second largest church after the Roman Catholic.

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