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Pastor Jerome, wife amassed Rs. 12 Bn in personal wealth

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Investigations carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) have revealed that Frederick Christopher Jerome Fernando, aka Pastor Jerome, who is said to have criticized other religions and religious beliefs on the Internet in his speeches, violating ethnic and religious harmony, has spent Rs. 6.1 billion to establish the Miracle Dome.

Five thousand persons can be seated at the Miracle Dome located at Veyangoda Road, Katunayake and Pastor Jerome delivered his lectures from there.

The CID filed a report to the court regarding the search operations conducted from July 7 to 12 at the venue based on a search warrant obtained from the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.

The report stated that over Rs. 12 billion had been received in the personal accounts of Pastor Jerome, the accounts of his private business, the accounts of the church where his prayers were held and the accounts of his wife, Melanie Diane Vanculanberg, in 12 government and private banks.

The CID informed the Court that investigations are being conducted under the Money Laundering Act regarding how the money was received.

It is also mentioned in the report that 10 lectures had been held at the Miracle Dome from last March to May and two unedited CDs had been taken into custody.

The statement of Sachin Dhanushka Punchihewa, head of the media department of that institution, was recorded and Ashel Menaka Fernando, another employee there had mentioned that the CCTV footage was not available at that time. In his statement, he mentioned that the footage would be provided immediately, but they had not received it so far. The CID asked the Court to issue a notice to Sachin Dhanushka Punchihewa since he is deliberately concealing the evidence needed for this investigation.

Also, on July 18, the King’s Revival Church, which is said to be owned by Pastor Jerome, was searched based on the search warrant obtained from the Court and the report was submitted by the Police. The report stated that Pastor Jerome had been preaching in all three languages since 2001 there and had 1,200 permanent members. K.R.A.C. Kulasekara, the guardian who was there, mentioned that the sermons held there had not been recorded. It was also informed that a place in Menerigama, Mount Lavinia was checked.

The members of Jamiatul Ulama Organization of Maradagahamula, Kalmunai, volunteered to give evidence regarding the statements made by the suspect pastor. Jamiatul Ulama Chairman P.M.S.A. Ansar Mawlana stated that Pastor Jerome had made hateful statements about Islam and its devotees, CID reported.

The CID asked permission to record statements from Ruwani Niwanthika, an organizer of the pastor’s organization, Mahendraraja Mayurathan of Ukulankulama, Vavuniya, Colombo 2 resident Mohammad Aslam Osman, Moratuwa resident Gayathri Sanjeewa, the Commissioner General of Buddhist Affairs and the Directors of the Hindu, Muslim and Christian Religious Affairs Departments. The magistrate gave permission for that after considering the request.

Investigations conducted by the CID have revealed that millions of rupees have been exchanged through the banks belonging to Pastor Jerome and other persons and orders were requested for further investigations in this regard.

On May 15, the CID filed a report with the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court and asked for a ban on foreign travel against Pastor Jerome. It was granted, but the previous day (May 14) the suspect pastor had already left for Singapore.

According to a complaint made by the Executive Director of the Buddhist Information Center Ven. Lakagalle Sirivijayananda Thera to the Inspector General of Police, investigations are being carried out by the Digital Forensic Laboratory of the Criminal Investigation Department.

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