Indian Catholic News

Indian priest attacks 'baseless' police cash claim

Jalandhar priest says Punjab police decision to dismiss four officers vindicates him.

Father Antony Madasserry, superior general of the Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus, addresses a press conference in Jalandhar on March 31 after he was accused of keeping unaccounted cash. (Photo supplied)

A Catholic priest under investigation for alleged possession of unaccounted money has claimed police made allegations against him because of their inability to recover money their own officers took from his home.

Father Antony Madasserry, superior general of the Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus (FMJ) congregation in Jalandhar Diocese in Punjab state, said police dismissing their own men connected with the case vindicates his position.

“It's very unfortunate. For four months now, I have been deprived of my legal money. They [police] looted my house and now are leveling false allegations to divert attention from their own misdeed,” the priest told on Aug. 14.

Punjab police dismissed three assistant sub-inspectors and one head constable on Aug. 10 for their alleged involvement in the embezzlement of money from the congregation’s house.

The dismissal was based on the findings of a special investigation team following Father Madasserry’s complaint that police at gunpoint took away 165 million rupees (about US$2.2 million) from his residence on March 29.

However, police officers allegedly presented cash equivalent to only US$1.2 million to tax officers, meaning about US$1 million was missing.

The priest maintains that the seized money had been collected from church-run schools for providing them with services such as stationery and uniforms by a firm that he directs.

Police admitted three of their men and some money were missing. Police later arrested the officers. Although they were dismissed from the force, police have yet to recover all the missing money.

The investigating officers told media on Aug. 10 that the priest’s congregation was recycling corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds and that he had failed to provide proof of its source.

“The police are making false allegations because they are not able to recover the remaining money. In fact, I have given all the proof of the money recovered from my residence to the police as well as the income tax department,” Father Madasserry said.

He said the money taken away was counted and “even the bank staff [who had come to count the money and take it for deposit in the bank] were there,” he said.

He said police should report to the court and “if the court seeks more information, I will provide it.”

Denying a police allegation of his dealings with black money, the priest asked: “If I had black money at my house, why would I call bank staff to count and take it for depositing in the bank?”

He also said he doesn’t receive “any CSR funds, so where is the question of recycling or misusing such funds? If at all they have any proof of it, the income tax department should be asking the question, not the police.”

Father Madasserry’s firm provides support services to 100 diocesan-run schools. He maintains the money collected for these services is fully accounted with bills and receipts.

Source: UCAN

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