Washington, DC: K.P. Yohannan, a Kerala-born Indian-American missionary, who founded and runs Gospel for Asia — one of the largest U.S.-based Christian mission agencies — has been charged with fraudulently soliciting hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations, and misdirecting the money for personal use.
A class action lawsuit filed Feb. 8 in a U.S. District Court in Arkansas alleges that K.P. Yohannan and other agency officials misrepresented how funds would be spent and funneled vast amounts of the hundreds of millions of dollars the organization has collected into for-profit businesses and an expensive headquarters, the Christian Post reported.
Gospel for Asia according to the lawsuit is a global missionary organization that operates in South Asia, primarily within India. The organization tells potential donors that it supplies the “poorest of the poor” with food, provisions, and a Christian message, but lead attorney Marc R. Stanley said in a statement that the agency has been exploiting the goodwill of Christians.
Matthew and Jennifer Dickson, who are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, charge defendants with violations of RICO and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as fraud and unjust enrichment. The plaintiffs allege that Gospel for Asia (GFA), Yohannan, and other GFA officials misrepresented to donors how, when, and where charitable donations would be spent, and funneled vast amounts of the hundreds of millions of dollars the organization has collected into for-profit businesses and an expensive headquarters.
“K.P. Yohannan and his Gospel for Asia inner circle have been exploiting the goodwill and generosity of devout Christians around the country for years. Gospel for Asia should return all the money it’s taken from donors who thought they were contributing to charity,” said Stanley.
According to the lawsuit: “Between 2007 and 2013, GFA solicited over $450,000,000 in donations from the United States alone, where the majority of GFA’s donors reside. Well over one million unique donations are made to GFA each year from tens of thousands of donors who give one time or on a recurring, sponsorship basis. However, despite repeated, explicit guarantees from GFA to donors, only a fraction of the donated money supports the people and causes for which it was donated, as Defendants redirect it for their own purposes.” GFA is present in numerous countries, including Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos and Thailand.