Fraudulent Swami convicted for defrauding followers and filing false tax returns


    ATLANTA (TIP) : A self-styled multi-millionaire guru of the largest Hindu Temple of Georgia, Annamalai Annamalai, also known as Dr. Commander Selvam and Swamiji Sri Selvam Siddhar, is going to find peace in prison. The bogus swami was convicted by a jury of defrauding his followers to sustain a lavish lifestyle for his family and himself.

    Federal authorities on Monday, August 25 announced the conviction of Annamalai, reported the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. He charged his followers fees in exchange for spiritual and related services, but then would run-up unapproved charges, using their credit card numbers, authorities said. “This defendant traded on his perceived religious authority and spiritual powers to cheat the faithful who believed in him,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

    “The jury saw through his deception.” Annamalai, 49, would then submit bogus documentation to the credit card companies to support any charges that were disputed, prosecutors said. The money he made through those fraudulent charges was used to finance his and his family’s lifestyle, which prosecutors said included luxury vehicles, control of multiple homes and foreign bank accounts in India. Annamalai’s other convictions include ones for wilfully filing a false tax return for the 2007 year for failing to disclose his financial interest in foreign bank accounts held in India, reported the Journal Constitution.

    Annamalai was also convicted of bankruptcy fraud offenses in connection with the Hindu Temple’s petition for bankruptcy protection in August 2009, authorities said. Annamalai diverted credit card receipts and donations intended for the Gwinnett County Hindu Temple to a bank account in the name of a different entity, authorities said.

    Annamalai, who once owned a milliondollar home in Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth, was also convicted of money laundering for using proceeds from the bankruptcy fraud to pay mortgages on properties that he owned, and payments to himself, authorities said, the report said. The self-proclaimed guru opened the Norcross temple – with a purple exterior adorned in green neon – in 2005 and by the following year he was under investigation by Gwinnett County police, who, in 2008, charged him with theft and practicing medicine without a license.

    Those charges were later dismissed. He took that fight to civil courts, where he filed several lawsuits alleging breach of contract against individuals he claimed had procured his religious services then failed to pay. Those lawsuits slowed down the bankruptcy trustee’s attempt at recovering funds owned by Annamalai, said the trustee’s lawyer, Hayden Kepner, according to the Journal-Constitution.

    His wife, Parvathi Sivanadiyan, is still awaiting trial. His former chief financial officer, Kumar Chinnathambi, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced October 24 in federal court. Annamalai is scheduled to be sentenced on November 13.

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