ISKCON leaders implicated in financial cover-up

Spring 2004

In our last issue we highlighted the amazing story of former ISKCON Guru, Harikesa Swami, who for years had been falsely posing as a completely renounced sannyasi and initiating Guru, yet somehow amassed enough money to buy a luxury villa on the French Riviera worth over a million dollars.
Stories like this prove that ISKCON's bogus Guru system is an open invitation for huge financial abuse. On the strength of their artificially inflated, special status, the unauthorised Gurus in ISKCON are able to attract vast sums of money from their hapless disciples that should rightly go to the direct service of Srila Prabhupada's institution.
Even the corrupt and self-serving GBC, most of whom are themselves posing as initiating Gurus, realised that this problem needed at least some cosmetic attention in order to make it appear that they were policing the situation.
After allowing themselves and their cohorts totally unfettered access to potentially vast fortunes for over twenty years, they finally made the following half-hearted and unpublished resolution in April 2000:


614 [LAW] 1. All GBC Body members, Gurus, sannyasis, international project directors, Regional Secretaries are required to file annual personal financial reports to the Executive Committee of the GBC Body and, where requested, their national executive body. These reports shall contain a standard Income Statement and Balance Sheet (to be reported in a Quickbooks or other standard software format). The report should also include a list of all ISKCON related bank accounts (including account names, signers and balance) for which these individuals are a signer or have some control. All Guru-daksina must be included in this report.

We said the above measure was "half-hearted" since there was absolutely no mechanism put in place for compelling the Gurus to comply, nor any system for verifying if such reports were accurate. However, even this weak, unenforceable and unverifiable request was totally ignored by most of the 80 or so ISKCON Gurus. The following exchange shows just what some ISKCON Gurus think about greater accountability and transparency. It starts with Jayadvaita Swami (himself an unauthorised Guru) pointing out that hardly any other Gurus had bothered filing financial reports:

From: Jayadvaita Swami
02-Jan-04, PAMHO:7654446
To: GBC Financial Reporting Review

Dear Maharajas and Prabhus,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

What standard of financial accountability do we expect from ISKCON's leaders?
In the year 2000 the GBC body resolved that all ISKCON Gurus, sannyasis, GBC members, and international project directors must annually file with the GBC executive committee a personal financial report.
The information asked for is pretty simple: a standard income statement and balance sheet, as well as a list of all ISKCON-related bank accounts over which one has some control. (Any Guru-daksina one might receive is also to be included in the report.) The contents of each report are to remain confidential.
How well has this resolution been complied with? In 2003, here's how many leaders submitted their reports:

Out of 39 GBC members, 13.
Out of 43 other leaders (a conservative figure), 9.

That is to say: One out of every three GBC members reported. Two out of three did not.
Of the other leaders, one out of five reported. Four out of five did not.
This tally comes from the GBC secretary, who (with executive committee approval) provided it to me at my request. The information is not confidential.
I am sharing this information with you in the hope that doing so will be to ISKCON's benefit.
Hare Krsna.
Hoping this finds you in good health,
Your servant,
Jayadvaita Swami

And here is the curt response from another unauthorised Guru Trivikrama Swami, who apparently runs his own flea-market business in spite of posing as a renounced sannyasi. His response shows how his non-compliance with the GBC's resolution was not due to some accidental administrative oversight, but rather pure contempt for the very concept:

From: Trivikrama Swami
02-Jan-04, PAMHO:7655348
To: Jayadvaita Swami

Before we get too many more righteous letters on this subject please allow me to explain why I have not submitted a financial disclosure.
First of all I thought Iskcon was supposed to be based on "Love and trust". If after 30-35 years of unsalaried service to the society why can't we trust our leaders? Secondly everyone can understand that the GBC can't enforce this "law". Another example of the GBC passing laws that they can't enforce. How are they going to go and look in everyone's pocket? If the institution was giving me money to use to do it's work then I could understand why I would have to report to them on how I spent it. I was recently in a interfaith meeting where all the members were receiving good salaries and there I was, older then most of them and with more years serving my church, but I had to go personally to the flea market on some days to come up with the money to pay the rent. This is especially true for those of us who go to new places to start a center.

Sorry but I am not inclined to have to take the time to give this kind of report...If you don't like it then fire me! Your servant
Trivikrama Swami

So there you have it from the horse's mouth. He complains about not being paid a wage, even though that is the very definition of a sannyasi, and then adamantly refuses to give any account of his income to the very institution he illegally uses as a hunting ground for new disciples and the resultant Guru-daksina (donations from disciples).
Even Gauri Das, President at Bhaktivedanta Manor, who we featured previously as a fanatical and outspoken supporter of ISKCON's deviant Gurus and intimidator of all those who want reform, expressed some bewildered concern at this glaring impropriety:

From: Gauri (das) TKG
04-Jan-04, PAMHO:7661781
To: Jayadvaita Swami

>better to scrap it.

Recently we had to contribute $60,000 to the legal case in USA. When we discussed sending the money many devotees who work very hard to raise it, asked 'what about Gurus, Sannyasis and leaders who have accumulated gifted money, will they be contributing anything?' And they were serious because there is talk about individuals especially sannyasis and Gurus having amassed gifted money. It may or may not be the fact, but there is an air of distrust.
Is that distrust based upon the activities of our gentlemen leaders over the last thirty odd years? Or have some of the gentlemen (even a few) acted in ways which may have contributed to the breakdown? Perhaps it was just that the followers have failed to adjust things properly in their minds? Is no remedy the solution?
Your servant

Above, Gauri Das not only questions Trivikrama Swami's response, but also discloses the fact that Bhaktivedanta Manor recently had to pay a vast sum of money to help bail out the child abuse court case currently under way in the US: "Recently we had to contribute $60,000 to the legal case in USA." We wonder if Gauri Das has himself disclosed this fact to the many Patrons and congregational members of Bhaktivedanta Manor whose temple donations have been used in such a way? We also wonder if he has told them that ISKCON Gurus were amongst those accused of abusing children? Gauri Das then makes a reasonably accurate prediction:

From: Gauri (das) TKG
02-Jan-04, PAMHO:7654739
To: Jayadvaita Swami

I am sharing this information with you in the hope that doing so will be to ISKCON's benefit. I am sure the IRM would be very happy to do something with this information. Unless something is done this will probably end up in their next publication.

The good news: having been stung into action by the above exchanges, and perhaps fearful of an IRM expose, more Gurus fled reports this year than any year previous.

The bad news: only about half the Gurus filed reports, and those that were filed fell way below any sort of professional accounting standard. Given past experience, and the above reaction from Trivikrama Swami, it is very hard to place much faith in such "accounts". It is clear from Jayadvaita Swami's summary of this year's performance that even he has his doubts:

From: Jayadvaita Swami
09-Mar-04, PAMHO:7920404

Dear Maharajas and Prabhu,
Please accept my humble obeisances.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
This year, for the 2004 GBC meeting, ISKCON's leaders--especially the GBC members--did better in turning in their annual personal financial reports.
Further progress is still to be made.
According to Lilasuka Prabhu, of the GBC Secretariat:

Of 106 reports expected, forty-six were received, all but one of the nearly forty GBC members filed a report.
38 Gurus and, apart from them, 21 sannyasis filed no report. The GBC is doing follow-up to obtain the missing reports.
According to hearsay, the quality of the reports submitted was uneven. For example, some leaders chose to exclude from their reports whatever income they received but later distributed to ISKCON projects. They reported neither the income nor the expense.

For future years, I believe, Lilasuka Prabhu is working on a standard reporting format to remedy this shortcoming.
Hare Krsna.
Hoping this fnds you in good health,
Yours in Srila Prabhupada's service,
Jayadvaita Swami

So we have a situation where a large number of people are falsely claiming Srila Prabhupada's disciples for themselves, making loads of money in the process, and then refusing to give proper accounts for their illegal behaviour. Not only this, but even the unrevealing accounts that are filed will never be checked by anyone, ever!

One might ask why anyone in the renounced order, serving within ISKCON, should have any assets in their own name at all? Surely everything should be in the name of ISKCON, and properly accounted for? Yet it has taken these so-called Gurus nearly three decades of unregulated money grabbing for it to even dawn on them that something might be wrong. The main problem is their false initiator Guru status, since this blinds them and their blind followers to that which should be blindingly obvious: in ISKCON all assets belong to Srila Prabhupada, including money and disciples. Until this deviation is rectified it is hard to see things improving.