KOCHI: Syro-Malabar Church Major Archbishop Cardinal Mar George Alencherry will face an Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe into controversial land deals. The Central agency is investigating whether any money laundering had taken place in the deals.
The case pertains to the sale of three acres of land to settle a loan of around Rs 60 crore. ED sources said an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), which is similar to an FIR of the police, was registered for conducting a detailed probe into the land deals.
The ED probe would further complicate things for George Alencherry, who is also the head of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, as the Income-Tax (I-T) department has already found that the diocese showed a price much lower than the existing market rate while executing the deals.
The I-T department had also slapped a fine of Rs 2.5 crore in this regard. ED officials said the probe was in its initial stage and the agency had registered the case based on an already existing FIR registered by the local police. The ED had summoned Pappachan Varghese, the complainant in the case, on October 28 to collect his statement. The names of all those listed in the FIR have been included in the ECIR. Only after conducting a detailed probe, would the ED finalise the list of accused in the case, officials said.
The ED has decided to go ahead with its probe in the land deal after Kerala High Court on August 12 dismissed seven petitions filed by Cardinal Alencherry seeking to quash the cases. Apart from the Cardinal, 24 persons including the then finance officer of the diocese Fr Joshy Puthuva and then Syncellus Mon Sebastian Vadakkumpadan also faced probe in the deals.