Arrested former CNI bishop grossly misappropriated church properties: ED

Bhopal: The Enforcement Directorate on Friday said it has found alleged “diversion” of crores of rupees and misappropriation of church assets as part of a money laundering probe against an arrested former bishop of the Church of North India (CNI) in Madhya Pradesh.

The former bishop, P C Singh, was arrested by the ED last month from Jabalpur district of the state and is currently in judicial custody.

The federal agency said it carried out fresh searches in this case on April 22 at five locations in Pune, Pachmarhi and Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Jalandhar and Kolkata.

During the latest searches in this case of “embezzlement” of church funds, “incriminating” documents were seized, the ED said in a statement.

The agency had earlier carried out raids in connection with the case at Jabalpur, Mumbai, Ranchi and Nagpur and seized Rs 5,37,500 from Singh’s residence in March.

“Prima facie, various office-bearers of CNI, including P C Singh and earlier managing director of a trust under CNI, have been found (to be) involved in the gross misappropriation of church properties through sale/renting (them) out at much lower prices by showing the properties as deteriorating and encroached,” the ED claimed.

For example, it said, two one-acre plots with a building each at Satpura National Park and in Pachmarhi were rented out for 15 years at a rental price of Rs 12,500 per month to a private entity — Satpura Resorts Private Limited.

The agency said it has “prima facie found multiple instances of diversion of crores of rupees meant to be paid to the trust under CNI against the sale of properties”.

The money laundering case stems from an FIR lodged by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Madhya Pradesh Police.

The EOW had arrested Singh in September last year after allegedly recovering around Rs 1.60 crore in Indian and foreign currencies from his bungalow in Jabalpur, about 320 km from state capital Bhopal.

The state police’s special unit had raided him on September 8 last year after registering a cheating case against him on a complaint that alleged that the former bishop indulged in financial misconduct in running an educational society wherein Rs 2.70 crore collected as students’ fees by the society’s various institutions between 2004-05 and 2011-12 was misused.

After Singh’s arrest, the CNI sacked him from the bishop’s post.