Kerala groups under probe for diverting Dutch charity funds

Two Christian charitable organisations are under investigation for diverting funds obtained from a Holland-based charity agency. The state police initiated the probe against Good Samaritan Project of India (GSPI) and Catholic Reformation Literacy Society (CRLS) based on a petition by the agency, Stichting Woord en Daad (W&D).

W&D stopped funding to the two Kerala outfits four years ago. In June, its representatives had met the chief minister.

"Prima facie, there is misappropriation of crores of rupees... There is criminal breach of trust, financial crimes, etc," said a report by SP Muhammed Iqbal.

W&D CEO Jan Lock says the agency donated crores of rupees to the two outfits between 1974 and 2009. While GSPI and CRLS started several projects, many of them, including a school for streetchildren and hospital for the destitute, had been shut after 2009, W&D said. Instead, the properties were sold to open resorts and real estate ventures, Lock alleged.

Both trusts have Christian reformist leader Joseph Pulikunnel as director. Prominent among its members are retired Supreme Court judge K T Thomas, former Kerala minister Prof N M Joseph and prominent writer Paul Zacharia. Both societies have the same members in various capacities.

Other allegations concern investing of tsunami rehabilitation funds in real estate.

Zacharia said the allegations were all false. "None of the directors has used charity funds for personal purpose," he said. Justice Thomas, who retired from Supreme Court in 2002, said, "We are running the trust in a transparent manner."

He added that the land for a school for streetchildren had been sold and a hospital converted into a heritage resort to find resources to run a palliative unit and for rehabilitation of juvenile diabetic girls.

Joseph Pulikunnel blamed his estranged son Raju for the charges. "Raju had an eye on the trusts," he said, adding that while the unused tsunami money is still in the societies' bank account, the sale of properties had allowed the trusts to become self-sufficient financially.

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