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Fact-Check: Was Rs 7,000 Crore Seized From Kerala’s Believers Church?

According to the IT department, approximately Rs 6 crore had been recovered during a raid on the Church in 2020.

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A collage of two photographs showing bundles of currency notes and a christain priest is going viral on the internet.

The claim: Those sharing the collage claims that Rs 7000 crores had been seized from the Believers Eastern Church, Kerala, by the Enforcement Department (ED).

According to the IT department, approximately Rs 6 crore had been recovered during a raid on the Church in 2020.

An archive of the post can be found here.

(Source: Facebook/Screenshot)

(The same claim has been viral over the years since 2021, archives of some of which can be found here and here.)

The truth: While there had been a raid on the Believers Eastern Church (Kerala) in November 2020, approximately Rs 6 crore had been recovered, not Rs 7000 crore, as mentioned in the claim.

Moreover, the Income Tax department conducted the raid, not the ED.

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How did we find out the truth:

  • We conducted a keyword search for a raid on Believers Church in Kerala and found several news articles from November 2020.

  • An article published on 6 November 2020 in The Hindu, said that "a crackdown by the Income Tax Department on the Thiruvalla-based Believers Eastern Church has allegedly brought to light several irregularities".

  • Taking a cue from the report, we checked for the details of the raid on the official website of the Income Tax Department where we found a press release of the raid.

According to the IT department, approximately Rs 6 crore had been recovered during a raid on the Church in 2020.

A link to the press release can be found here.

(Source: IT department/Screenshot)

  • According to the release, "Unexplained cash of approximately Rs. 6 crore has also been found during the search, including Rs 3.85 crore in a place of worship in Delhi".

  • It further added, "The evidence found so far indicate that the siphoning of funds in cash may be running into hundreds of crores of rupees".

Different news organisations report different numbers:

  • We the report about the raid in some other media organisations which said that the amount seized was Rs 14 crore.

  • A report in Indian Express said that "there was evidence suggesting the church had spent Rs 1,000 crore on real estate development".

  • A Mathrubhumi report, which had photos from the raid resembling the viral images, said that the IT probe found that the church received Rs 6,000 crore in foreign aid in the last five years. However, the report also said that the money recovered by the department was Rs 14.5 crore.

Who is the priest in the photo:

The priest, whose image has been included in the viral collage, was KP Yohannan, the founder and director of Gospel for Asia and the metropolitan bishop of the Believers Church.

Conclusion: The claim that Rs 7,000 crore was seized during a raid at Believers Church in Kerala is misleading. An IT raid conducted in November 2020 recovered approximately Rs 6 crore, according a press release by department.

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(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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