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K.P. Yohannan faces allegations of siphoning charitable donations

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DALLAS (DIYA TV) — K.P. Yohannan, a Kerala-born Indian American missionary founded and runs Gospel for Asia — the second-largest of Christian missionary agencies in the United States — has been accused in a class-action lawsuit of fraudulently soliciting charitable donations, then shifting said donations to personal his personal bank accounts. Several other affiliates have been implicated as co-conspirators in the lawsuit, as well as members of Yohannan’s family.

Yohannan now resides in Dallas-Fort Worth in north Texas.

The organization was founded in 1978, and has presences in several countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos and Thailand. It operates primarily in India. Gospel for Asia broadcasts itself as an organization which supplies the “poorest of the poor” with food, provisions and a Christian message. However, lead attorney in the lawsuit, Marc R. Stanley, said in a statement released last week that the organization has instead been exploiting the goodwill of Christians in the United States.

“K.P. Yohannan and his Gospel for Asia inner circle have been exploiting the goodwill and generosity of devout Christians around the country for years. Gospel for Asia should return all the money it’s taken from donors who thought they were contributing to charity,” Stanley said.

K.P. Yohannan

K.P. Yohannan

The lawsuit alleges the fraudulent solicitations amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars. It was filed in U.S. federal court by the Dallas-based Stanley Law Group, and comes just four months after the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) cut ties with Gospel for Asia, citing violations in five of the ECFA’s seven core standards.

“Allegations were made that GFA had upwards of $150 million in partner field accounts, far more than necessary to provide appropriate operating reserves. During our visit on June 3, ECFA was informed that GFA field partner cash reserves were approximately $7 million,” John C. Van Drunen, executive vice president of the ECFA, said in a signed statement.

In the 108-page court document, plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that Gospel for Asia, Yohannan, and other officials of the organization misrepresented to its donors how, where and when their charitable donations would be spent. It further alleges that instead of using the money for missionary purposes, Yohannan and GFA instead allocated the money for personal use, various for-profit businesses, and its lavish headquarters.

Matthew and Jennifer Dickson, named plaintiffs in the suit, have charged Yohannan with violations of the RICO statute — a law which focuses primarily on racketeering and is reserved for groups who knowingly participate in organized crime — violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as fraud and unjust enrichment.

According to the lawsuit, Gospel for Asia solicited over $450 million in the United States alone between the years of 2007 and 2013. North of one million unique donations are made to the organization each year from tens of thousands who give a one-time or recurring donation, however, despite explicit guarantees from GFA to donors, only a fraction of the donated money supports the people and causes for which it was donated. Instead, Yohanann and others used the money for personal use, the lawsuit said.

gospeal-for-asia

Yohannan’s wife and board member, Gisela, and son, who is organization’s vice president, Daniel, are named defendants in the lawsuit.

As a foreign charity operating in India, Gospel for Asia is required to publicly account for all funds it spends inside the country, pursuant to the Indian Foreign Contribution Regulation Act of 2010. Examinations of the FC-6 reports submitted to the Indian government for Believers Church, Gospel for Asia-India, and the related limited liability companies of Last Hour Ministries and Love India Ministries reveal just how small of an amount the organization sends to the country, according to the lawsuit.

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Upcoming filmmaker Divyansh Sharma aims to reinvent cinema

From Street Play performer in remote rural India to turning heads in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma has come a long way in a short time and hes only getting started.

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — “Reinventing the cinematic standard” one story at a time might sound like a ambitious undertaking for some but for Divyansh Sharma it’s only the beginning.

Sharma’s roots stem from New Delhi where he discovered his fascination for storytelling. At 16, he began performing street plays in remote rural India, educating people on social issues such as equal rights, education for all, and child marriage. He finished High School and went on to take a scholarship offered by the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where upon he graduated from their BFA Program which focused on acting and directing.

Studded from the AMDA degree in Acting for Film, Theatre and Telvision, Divyansh Sharma went on to shoot award-winning commercials from Apple and Google each amassing thousands to millions of views globally. Still feeling the urge to create more he decided he wanted to “re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time” and began writing his own short film that would use techniques unseen in short-film storytelling such as Breaking fourth wall, plot jumps, interconnecting plot-lines.

The result was “Graffiti” which made a world premiere at the Chinese Theaters in March 2019 for the Golden State Film Festival. The story revolves around Michael Dawson, played by Divyansh Sharma, a grieving spoken word artist trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. The 30-minute short which Sharma wrote, directed, acted, and edited went on to amass more than 30 awards across the world at film festivals like New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Delhi International Film Festival and more.

Without skipping a beat, Sharma wrote, co-directed, starred and edited his next project “Cigarettes in December”. In this upcoming film Divyansh Sharma portrays Russ, a sexual assault survivor who attends court ordered support group therapy and enters a graduation isolation from the world. Sharma is currently in the final stages of Post Production and will be the first project to be completely done in-house by his own Production Company “Origins Productions”. Sharma is looking forward to a successful run in the festival circuit for Cigarettes in December as he begins to shift his gaze on Pre-Production for next his project he co-wrote called “a Dream in Frames” whose script has already gone to win a Screenwriting award at Los Angeles Film Festival.

From performing Street Plays in rural India to turning heads with his debut in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma is on a path that continues to deliver. From starring in Award- winning commercials to creating his own Award- winning features his footprint is firm and felt and his message is clear: “Re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time”.

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Arts & Culture

Tulsi, Kamala tussle on night 2 of Detroit Democratic debate

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Tulsi Kamala Dem Debate

DETROIT (Diya TV) — In another otherwise straightforward affair, night two of the Democratic debate in Detroit, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Kamala Harris took jabs at one another, as they both aim to capture attention and move up in the polls.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to tout the U.S.-India relationship, saying on a tour to the Indo-Pacific region that America is “working hard with the Indian government to provide them with opportunities to grow their economy.”

A 60-year-old Sikh priest was attacked at his home near a Sikh gurdwara in Hughson, California. Amarjit Singh says the suspect broke several windows, punched him in the back of his neck, and then yelled ‘go back to your country,’ before fleeing.

Indian rapper Badshah broke the record for most views of a YouTube video within 24 hours of its premiere. His new video “Paagal” received a staggering 75 million views, topping a mark set by Korean boy band BTS.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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US India trade talks resume after G20 summit, in New Delhi

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US-India Trade Talks

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — India and the U.S. will resume bilateral trade talks in New Delhi next week. These talks continue the dialog established by Indian Prime Minister Modi and President Trump at the Osaka G20 Summit last week.

Sikh activists launched a petition asking Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris to apologize for supporting employment discrimination against a Sikh job applicant in 2011 during her tenure as California’s attorney general.

A report by Bloomberg says Boeing turned to Indian-based subcontractors who were paid as little $9 per hour for work on the U.S. planemaker’s beleaguered 737 Max aircraft.

Mahmud Jamal is now a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, becoming the 4th ever South Asian federal appellate judge in Canada.

A group of South Asian filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap and actors like Anupam Kher and Archie Panjabi are among the 842 people invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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