Officials advised of laws

RELIGIOUS organisations agree that funds collected by churches and mandali need to be audited and proper financial records need to be kept.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) issued a statement last week advising officials of religious organisations who collect and receive funds on behalf of their organisations to comply with the relevant laws and regulations.

Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi general secretary Vijendra Prakash said ad hoc groups even within the Hindu religion were popping up and they were accountable to no one.

“We urge all mandali to register with us. That way, all such bodies are required to present audited financial reports to us,” Mr Prakash said.

“The mandali are popping up everywhere and the people at the helm, more often than not, abuse public money which is given as contribution and donations.

“It is not only a sin in the Hindu religion but in all religions, especially if people are scamming using religion.”

Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the church practised and preached accountability and did not condone behaviours that led to abuse of funds and abuse of faith.

FIU director Razim Buksh said a number of cases had been brought to the attention of the FIU involving diversion and abuse of funds by officials of religious organisations in Fiji.

Most of the cases involved the collection of funds outside of Fiji, the manner in which the funds are brought into Fiji, and subsequently how the funds were deposited and used.

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