Ex-Hindu Temple of Ga. leader charged with fraud

8:22 AM, Feb 16, 2014   |    comments
(AP file)
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NORCROSS, Ga. -- The leader of a now-defunct Hindu temple has been charged with 32 counts of fraud and obstruction.

Annamalai Annamalai, 48, headed up the Hindu Temple of Georgia. He has been indicted on federal charges related to several financial schemes, including the temple's filing for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

"Annamalai exploited his position as a leader and spiritual adviser to enrich himself by fleecing the people who trusted him with their most personal information," IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot said in a release.

According to the indictment, Annamalai, who also goes by Dr. Commander Selvam and Swamiji Sri Selvam Siddhar, charged fees to Hindu Temple of Georgia members in exchange for spiritual services. He often charged members' credit cards multiple times without their permission; when the cardholders disputed charges, he provided credit cards companies with false documents in support of the transactions.

Annamalai also used income generated by the temple to fund his lifestyle, spending the money on houses and cars, and depositing some of it into bank accounts in India.

When the temple filed for bankruptcy protection, Annamalai and a co-defendant hid assets from creditors by diverting donations and credit card receipts to a separate bank account, according to information presented in court.

Annamalai is also accused of submitting false affidavits to the bankruptcy court and a grand jury, and using proceeds from the bankruptcy fraud to pay his personal expenses.

He was arrested in November 2013 and will go on trial at a later date.

Hindu Temple of Georgia members who believe they have been victimized by Annamalai are encouraged to call investigators at 404-338-7533.

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