Priest in US sentenced to jail for bank fraud

Annamalai Annamalai, 49, aka Swamiji Sri Selvan Siddhar, a former leader of a now defunct Hindu temple in Georgia has been sentenced to 27 years prison for bank and tax frauds, money laundering, and using the temple’s income to fund his personal lifestyle. He was also convicted of bankruptcy fraud offences in connection with the Hindu Temple’s petition for bankruptcy protection in August 2009.

The court heard that Annamalai convinced his victims that they had a problem in need of spiritual guidance, then took advantage of their vulnerabilities for personal financial gain.

He charged his followers’ credit card numbers on multiple occasions in excess of the agreed amount without authorisation, and when the followers disputed the charges Annamalai submitted false documentation to the credit card companies in support of the unauthorised charges.  He later filed spurious lawsuits against followers.

He also concealed assets from creditors and others by diverting credit card receipts and donations intended for the temple, to a bank account in the name of a different entity.

He was also found guilty of money laundering, obstruction, and false statements for sending a bogus email to an IRS agent.

In addition to his prison sentence, Annamalai has been ordered not to engage in any spiritual services for compensation, directly or indirectly through intermediaries. He will be housed in a Communications Management Housing Unit which is a special facility that will monitor his telephone calls and electronic communications from prison.