Federal tax authorities have seized the bank accounts of the Church of South India medical school named in the money laundering case against the church’s moderator, the Most Rev. Dharmaraj Rasalam.
On 22 Nov 2022 the Press Trust of India reported officers of the Enforcement Directorate from the Federal Revenue Department attached bank deposits worth ₹ 95.25 million (US $1.2 million) belonging to the Dr. Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College, Karakonam in Thiruvananthapuram district. An investigation found the church-run medical school sold admission places to prospective students and then reneged on offering admission..
A spokesman for the Enforcement Directorate noted “admissions were not given even after taking money.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of admissions was used to improve the college’s infracture with the balance “diverted” to the Diocese of South Kerala and its bishop, it is alleged.
The bishop and diocesan treasurer “had by the commission of the scheduled offence, derived/obtained the proceeds of crime totalling ₹ 95.25 million.”
However, those funds could not be recouped, leading an attachment for an equivalent sum against the school’s current assets as permitted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
On 24 July 2022 police raided the school, diocesan offices and the homes of the bishop and diocesan officials seeking evidence of the crime. The following day Bishop Rasalam was detained at Thiruvananthapuram international airport as he was about to depart for London to attend the 2022 Lambeth Conference by immigration authorities and summoned to appear on 27 July 2022.
Accompanied by his attorneys, Bishop Rasalam was interrogated for ten hours and asked to assist the authorities with their on-going investigations. Diocesan secretary TT Praveen, who is also a subject of the investigation, had left the country before the ED could block his departure. A second formal interview was held on 1 Nov 2022.
In August 2019 the Tamil Nadu medical education commission recommended criminal charges be filed against Bishop Rasalam, the Bishop in South Kerala, and officials from the medical college for selling admission places to aspiring medical students.
The investigation was launched after 24 students claimed they had been promised a place in the medical school after paying upwards of ₹6 million (approximately $84,000) for a place in the MBBS, BDS or MD programs. “All the office-bearers” of the diocese and school “ were fully aware of the situation and virtually it was wilful cheating,” the findings stated.
The case continues.