Thursday, 15 March 2012

An introduction to (Fr) Gali Arulraj

Gali Arulraj - a scamming, thieving Catholic priest with a 'wife' and kids

Gali Arulraj is a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Nellore, in Andhra Pradesh state, South India.  He was ordained a priest in 1981. 

While parish priest in the town of Kanigiri, he established an independent charity, called the Dayananda Nilayam Society for Social Development (DNSSD). Since its inception Arulraj has been Director of DNSSD.

Between 1998 and 2006 the main donor to DNSSD was a registered UK charity, Enable (Working in India).

Since 2006, Enable has discovered that Arulraj, with associates,  embezzled donations in excess of one million pounds.

In 2007, Gali Arulraj and three associates were charged by the Indian police, at Ongole, Andhra Pradesh, with a number of criminal offences, including theft, criminal conspiracy, 'cheating' and fraud.  Those charged with Arulraj are (Fr) Vatakili Paulinraj (Arulraj's nephew who is also a priest of the Diocese of Nellore), Dr Gudipati Subba Rao (a medical practitioner at the DNSSD projects), and  Mrs Gongeda Sujatha (described in the charge sheet and elsewhere as the 'wife' of Gali Arulraj. Her name is sometimes written as Gangada Sujatha).

The charges were brought in 2007, but the case has still not come to the criminal court.

Although Catholic priests are not allowed to marry, Mrs Gongeda Sujatha is known as Arulraj's 'wife'.  It is unclear whether they have formally married, but Arulraj is recognised as the father to her two young children.

There were several elements to Arulraj's deception during the years that Enable supported DNSSD.  At first he was a priest in good standing with his bishop and diocese. When he abandoned his diocesan responsibilities in violation of his obedience to his bishop (from 1997) and lived as a married man with his 'wife' and children, he continued to present himself as a priest in good standing.  His deception was made possible due to the complicity of his nephew, (Fr) Vatakili Paulinraj [whose name is sometimes given as Fr V. Paulin Raj], who served as Secretary/Treasurer of DNSSD.  With Paulinraj at times concelebrating with him, Arulraj performed the sacred priestly action of celebrating Holy Mass, even though he was living a way of life that made a mockery of that sacred action.  No one in Enable knew anything about Arulraj's double life until June 2006.

(Fr) Vatakili Paulinraj assisted Arulraj's deception
Arulraj and Paulinraj embezzled funds by presenting Enable with sets of false accounts over several years.  An informal set was provided for the calendar year during visits to India by Enable representatives each January.  A formal set of accounts, signed off by a chartered accountant, Mr Parchuri Venkata Ranganadham, of Ongole, was prepared for each financial year, ending in March.  Enable was also presented with 'bank statements' signed by a manager of the Indian Overseas Bank, Trunk Road, Ongole  (with whom I met and received confirmation of the authenticity of the 'statements').  The subsequent police investigation revealed that both the bank manager and the chartered accountant had fraudulently approved entirely false accounts and bank statements.  Arulraj's 'scam' had been to simultaneously raise funds from other donors, about whom Enable was not informed, and there was no record of those other donations on the accounts shown to us.  In turn, the other donors were not informed about the donations DNSSD received from Enable.

The scam enabled Arulraj and Paulinraj to embezzle more than one million pounds.  They kept for themselves donations that had been given to support disabled children.  In other words, they stole from the poorest in Indian society to enrich themselves. The evidence of their embezzlement was discovered in their bank accounts and possession of palatial private properties.

Enable discovered a problem with the DNSSD accounts, from which the embezzlement was eventually discovered, in 2006. When Arulraj and Paulinraj failed to give an adequate reply to queries, as Enable's General Secretary I contacted the Bishop of Nellore, then the Most Rev. P.C. Balaswamy, seeking his intervention.  With his encouragement and support I presented the evidence of criminal wrongdoing to the police in June 2006. Bishop Balaswamy gave strong support to Enable's attempts to justly resolve the problem with the two priests.  When Arulraj and Paulinraj abandoned hundreds of children for whom they had assumed responsibility, Bishop Balaswamy asked for (and received) Enable's assistance so that the Diocese would be able to support a number of them.

In December 2006, Bishop Balaswamy's long-overdue retirement (several years after the expected Bishops' retirement age of 75) was accepted and a successor, Bishop Doraboina Moses Prakasam, was appointed. To say that Enable's Board of Trustees (including myself) are "disappointed" with the way Bishop Prakasam has addressed the scandal involving his two priests would be a charitable understatement.

Some details of what happened in 2006-2007 and subsequently will be described in other posts.

Having kept a low profile for a  few years Arulraj re-emerged in February 2012, presenting himself as Director of the  New Life Society for the Poor and Handicapped.  On his Linked-In Profile, Arulraj presents himself as a priest, describing himself as Fr Gali Arulraj, Director at New Life Society for the poor and handicapped, whereas on a website for that "Society", launched in March 2012, he describes himself as Mr. G.A. Raj, Director.

[UPDATE 30 March 2012:  Following the exposure given by this blog the profile and website have already been removed]

The projects described on Arulraj's professionally designed website, for which he is seeking donations, are non-existent. I will describe the scam in subsequent posts. 

This blog has been set up to expose Arulraj's continued scams.  Having experienced Arulraj's deception over a period of many years, I feel a responsibility to warn others of what he is currently doing.  As a Catholic myself,  it is with much regret that I find myself having to expose a consummate scammer who is also a Catholic priest.  The regret is accompanied by considerable dismay that Bishop Prakasam of Nellore has turned a deaf ear to repeated requests, since I first met him in January 2007, for Arulraj's canonical status to be addressed.  The ongoing scandal of the "scammer priest" could so easily have been prevented.