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Archbishop & Bishop criminally misappropriated Rs 49.50 crores of Coorg Relief Fund: Former Justice Alleges

Bengaluru: Former Justice of the High Court of Bombay and High Court of Karnataka Justice Michael F Saldana (Retired) has alleged that the Archbishop of Bangalore Peter Machado and Bishop of Mysuru K A Willian have criminally misappropriated Rs 49.50 crores collected under the head of Coorg Disaster Relief Fund in 2018.

Retired Justice Saldanha earlier this week extended support 37 priests from different parishes in Mysuru who had showed exemplary courage to write to Pope Francis at the Vatican to inform the Catholic Church leaders about the corruption, fornication and misdoings of the Bishop of Mysuru K A William.

Reportedly Bishop William used his influence and that of the Catholic Church to file defamation cases against the 37 priests for speaking to GoaChronicle.com.

Besides the defamation cases, Bishop William exercised his Church ordained powers to transfer the 37 priests out of Mysuru.

Here are the complete details of the allegation of ‘Grave Criminal Misconduct’ alleged by Former Justice Saldanha:

  1. The citizens of Madikeri District are furious over the criminal misappropriation of an amount approximating Rs. 49.50 Crores collected by the two of you under the head of Coorg Disaster Relief Fund. Following the havoc that occurred during the monsoon of August 2018, because of the rampant tree cutting by the timber mafia, there were heavy floods accompanied by landslides and a large number of people, more than 2400 families lost their houses, plantations, cattle and possession. The State Government came forward with some cosmetic relief which amounted to nothing.
  1. Madikeri District comes under the Mysuru Diocese. William rushed there and exhorted the entire population of the said district, mainly the coffee planters, both Catholic and non-Catholic and collected Rs. 1.50 Crores on his own admission.
  1. Next, he went to Mangalore and taking advantage of the fact that the Catholics are reasonably well to do generous, he and the local Bishop took up collections for the Disaster Relief Fund, first, at all the Churches and then held a series of public performances all over the district and collected Rs. 3 Crores. These were all cash collections. Next, he came to Mysuru and followed the same formula but on this occasion all the Diocese and Educational Institutions were ordered to get each student to contribute Rs. 100/-. The Church collections plus these collections plus the various Charity Public Performances held by these Institutions all over the Diocese brought in as much as Rs. 3.50 Crores. There is no dispute about these figures because every week he put out announcements in the Churches and in the media stating that he believes in strict accountability of public money. The funds gathering continued till about the end of the year when the public of the Diocese were told to skip their Christmas Celebration and donate the money for the poor people who had lost everything. The gullible public of the Diocese responded in positive and according to William’s own announcements collected another Rs. 2.50 Crores.
  1. Everybody overlooked the fact that this man was virtually cheating and looting because even after four months not one rupee reached the victims. In the instances of natural calamity the relief has to be immediate and fast. In this case neither happened.
  1. William’s next victim was the Bangalore Archdiocese. The Archbishop Peter Machado joined him in these appeals and a massive fund raising campaign through the Churches, Institutions and particularly the schools and colleges resulted in a hefty collection of Rs. 6 Crores.
  1. Not being satisfied with this money, these two Honourable Gentlemen embarked on an excellent idea. They contacted the World Class Artist – Sonu Nigam and requested him to give a Charity Concert at the St. Joseph High School Grounds which can accommodate about 1 lakh people and which cost them nothing on 27.01.2019 at 6.00 p.m. Both the Central and State Governments considered this as Disaster Relief and total tax exemption was granted. On this occasion Peter Machado made a special appeal to the business houses to donate money because it was tax free and the response was excellent.
  1. Another clever idea which these Honourable Gentlemen thought of was to issue Donor Passes (no ticket) priced from Rs. 500/- to Rs. 5,000/- per person. Additionally, they brought out a so-called Souvenir and collected a huge amount of money through that. What we must point out to the immense credit and magnanimity of Sonu Nigam was the fact that he did not charge a single rupee and that his crew took care of the lighting, stage effects, sounds and also the cost of the tickets, because it is important that all the fans get their money worth. The expenses were absolutely zero.
  1. To the immense credit of Sonu Nigam, he has displayed outstanding love and generosity during the present crisis and apart from providing food and shelter to the migrants, he had chartered hundreds of high quality coaches so that these persons could travel in comfort all the way to their relatives. This has been seen by the whole country and we need to bow our heads in tribute to him, his family and to his entire team.
  1. The concert on 27.01.2019 was a runaway success. As always happens, the seating provided for 40,000 persons was inadequate and the police had a problem restricting the huge crowds at the gates. Sonu Nigam has a heart of gold and he issued a directive to allow everybody in and to collect a token amount of Rs. 50/- per person as it was a charity performance. In the result about one lakh people witnessed this world class event. What were the total collections from this performance alone. An unbelievable amount of Rs. 13 Crores in all.
  1. William did not dispute this but tried to say that over 18,000 people were affected. That the total collection from all the sources had aggregated to Rs.49.50 Crores. He mentioned in the Church dispatches in Mysuru that though this amount appears very large, each house would cost roughly Rs. 18 Lakhs because he wanted to do a good job so that the structure would last at least 50 years and would not be damaged by heavy rains. The second head according to him related to replacement of cattle and livestock and he stated that the cows and bulls and the poultry would be of a very high quality so that they would be a real income earning asset. One special head mentioned by him was that pig breeding is a big cottage industry in Kodagu as pork is very popular and that each house would be provided with a piggery which would fetch excellent income. This was the impressive package put out by this man who said that in the name of Jesus the rehabilitation would be real and meaningful.
  1. Nearly 24 months have gone by, the Government Relief was very poor and the affected people are struggling to rebuild their lives. They have no fighting power. All those who raised questions on their behalf as to where the money has gone received no answer but William sees to it that they are beaten up. Our Coorg Research Team found out with difficulty that one cheap shabby house has been built and one person was given an auto rickshaw and William put the presentation in the media for which he got a lot of cheap publicity.
  1. Questions have arisen as to how William comes into possession of these unlimited resources for all his womanizing and other dirty work. Recently, where he and Leslie Moras were accused of kidnapping and sexually molesting a young Brahmin lady William arrived an out of Court settlement for Rs. 12 Crores.
  1. This amount has been recorded by Justice Michael F. Saldanha in writing and undisputed. The Diocese has a large number of lay employees who are paid a pittance salary which has been stopped for the last three months on the ground that no money is coming in. The teaching staff held an agitation on the ground that they will starve to death because William stated that the Institutions are closed and that the diocese is bankrupt. They appealed to Justice Michael F. Saldanha who personally took up the matter with the Education Minister who was kind enough to do whatever he could to see that they got some interim relief, but he told Justice Michael F. Saldanha that William is pleading bankruptcy and it is difficult.
  1. By such a time when all transfer orders in the country have been deferred, William has passed transfer orders against 39 Priests which case will be dealt with tomorrow and refuses to revoke the Order. It is an offence under the law to go again the directions of the Central and State Governments and to threaten the poor Priests that if they do not obey he will kick them out of the Clergy. He has already done it in one case.
  1. One of Justice Michael F. Saldanha’s celebrated judgements from the Bombay High Court related to the conviction of 37 William type of Government Officers who had misappropriated relief amounts and the aide in kind at the time of the Latur Earthquake. Apart from stinging fines in order to recover some money and give it to the affected persons, each one was given a five years R.I. Sentence with the observation that exemplary punishments must be given to this class of persons who behave worse than predators. When the case went to Supreme Court, the sentences were doubled with the observation that this class of accused deserve “condign” punishments.
  1. Perhaps Archbishop Peter Machado can tell us how many night shelters for homeless persons he has constructed because this was one of his appeals made more than a year back at the time of the concert. If it is there in writing in the annexure so he is certainly accountable.
  1. The whole of Kodagu is up in arms over this issue and we do hope that both the Central and State Governments will take stringent action.

The 37 priests continue to be harassed for exposing the Bishop of Mysuru by certain sections of the Catholic Church in India. The Association of Concerned Catholics and Christian activist Robert Rosario have been working with the 37 priests to expose the truth behind Bishop of Mysuru KA William and Archbishop of Bangalore Peter Machado.

The Apostolic Nuncio and the Vatican have not yet responded to the official complaint sent by the 37 priests last year in September.

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