The leadership of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) on Wednesday denied allegations that some officers of the religious group have personal bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or in Switzerland.
Edwin Zabala, INC spokesman, said there is no truth to the allegations of expelled ministers Isaias Samson Jr. and Vincent Florida that some of their officers have offshore bank accounts and that they have been skimming from cash collections.
“We follow protocols for the deposit of cash collections. We also have very stringent audit procedures, otherwise the church would not be granted tax-exempt status by the US government,” Zabala said.
He challenged Samson and Florida to present proof that the church had offshore accounts.
“We are willing to sign a waiver; if they can prove that any of INC’s leaders have offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands or in Switzerland, they can have the cash in all of them,” he said.
Samson, whose earlier complaint for serious illegal detention against the INC leaders was dismissed by the Department of Justice, alleged that there were irregularities in the handling of the Church’s funds in the US. Florida, an American former minister in the INC Northern Virginia congregation, said he had reported the INC and the church leaders to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for tax fraud.
However, IRS Special Agent Arlette Lee clarified that no cases had been filed against INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo and Auditor Glicerio Santos Jr. in the US.
Zabala said the INC cannot remain silent in the face of the defamatory statements of Samson and Florida, who were expelled from the church last July.
“We are deeply saddened by the allegations of Mr. Samson and Mr. Florida. We wanted to refrain from commenting on their baseless accusations, as we do not wish to dignify any further attempts to subject the Church to trial by media. However, we owe it to our flock and the public to forthrightly respond to these incredulous allegations,” he added.
Zabala said they will continue “to pray for the enlightenment of those who wish to sow divides within our church.”
He also appealed to the public not to engage in further speculation “that serves no other purpose than to fuel hatred and discrimination.”
”Just as the government’s prosecution body has found Mr. Samson’s complaint for serious illegal detention without any basis, we are likewise confident that our leaders will be vindicated and that the truth shall prevail once more,” Zabala said.