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We believe that Indian guru Mata Amritanandamayi known as the “Hugging Saint” is Embezzling The World. Help us to spread the truth about her.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Not an Open Book

An anonymous contributor sent us the following statements about the ashram's books.

Mata Amritanadamayi recently released this statement, "My institution is an open book. Its accounts are submitted to authorities regularly." Brahmachari Mathrudas, head of accounts of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) Trust, also issued a statement regarding some of the Trust assets and expenditures.

Br Mathrudas revealed that as of the end of the 2011-12 fiscal year, there was 314 crore Rs in the Trust bank account from accumulated foreign contributions. He converts that into $50.53 million US dollars at the current $/Rs exchange rate of 62 to 1. In early 2012, which covered the end of that reporting period, the exchange rate was instead around 50 to 1. Therefore, there was actually around $63 million in the Trust bank account then. He does the improper exchange rate conversion when he talks about relief given for the 2004 tsunami. He converts the amount into US dollars at the current 62 to 1 $/Rs exchange rate, but the exchange rate when the relief was given was closer to 45 to 1.This means his figures are overinflated by more than30% regarding how much he says was given in US dollars. These examples show that Br Mathrudas is not presenting information in an honourable and proper manner.

Br Mathrudas also says that bank deposits from foreign contributions have to be kept in India, and that is correct. What he does not say is how much there is in bank deposits that come from Trust activities not involving foreign contributions and that do not need to be included in the FCRA reports, such as income from the colleges, schools, and AIMS. There is also no mention of what is sitting in ashram rather than Trust bank accounts from non-trust activities, such as the income from canteens, store sales, India tour revenue, taxi service, laundry service, phone and internet, and many of  the other money making activities within India. There is also considerable income from the sales of flats, renunciant dowries, accommodation fees, clinic fees, etc.

The total in all ashram and Trust bank accounts could easily exceed one hundred million dollars. We will not know this until there is a full and complete public accounting of all Trust and ashram accounts, and not just the required submission of some Trust records to governmental authorities. How can anyone rely on what Br Mathrudas says when his predecessor, the Swami who was former Joint Secretary in charge of accounts, said after he left the institution that the Trust only spent half as much on housing for the poor as they said it did, and that the costs of this housing were only half what the Trust said they were. The former Joint Secretary also said Amma had declared AIMS a free hospital meant to provide medical care free of charge so it could get a complete waiver of customs duty on imported items. He then said, "The Math as a Charitable Trust is not supposed to run the hospital like a commercial establishment as it is doing now."

Where Br Mathrudas tries to mislead us the most is when he says:

"AIMS Hospital, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University), and the Amrita Vidyalayam school system are not-for-profit institutions. In fact, they—and all other institutions run by charitable trusts like MAM—are legally prohibited from generating profits, and they do not do so."

That is circular reasoning. By definition, being a non-profit activity means you do not generate profits. However, there is nothing prohibiting it from "accumulating income," which is the same thing as generating profits. Both result in a change in assets by means of accumulating surpluses. It is just a matter of what you call it.

It is also possible for someone clever to remove accumulated income from a trust. An example of this might be entering into construction contracts with a relative. This, and Br Mathrudas' misleading statements, is even more reason why there should be a full and complete public accounting of all Trust and ashram books and records. These have never been an open book.

Br Mathrudas also makes statements with respect to the amount of medical care given by AIMS and its medical clinics. He says that AIMS and its satellite clinics have treated more than 3 million patients free of charge. Yet relatively little of this was for major medical procedures. Most were minor outpatient visits.

AIMS doctors donate their free time to perform some outpatient treatment, and the medical director of AIMS, Dr Prem Nair, has acknowledged the important role that the Kerala and national governments play in paying for this care.

It is interesting what Br Mathrudas reports about the care of the 26 patients at AIMS in 2013 reimbursed by the Prime Minister's Relief Fund (PMRF). He says, "For these patients, AIMS provided care at an expenditure of Rs. 52 lakhs [$83,679 U.S] and was reimbursed by PMRF for a total of only 14 lakhs [$22,529 U.S.]."

As with other private hospitals, AIMS can charge anything they want for the care they provide. There are many stories in the US about hospitals charging the uninsured $10 for only an aspirin. The PMRF, like other government sponsored programs (such as Medicare in the US, Australia, and Canada), pays what is fair and proper for treatment so that the hospital can cover its costs and earn a modest profit. The fact that AIMS listed their charges as nearly four times what they received as fair compensation indicates that their normal pricing is very much over inflated . It also casts doubts on the meaningfulness of Br Mathrudas' figures as to how much free medical care AIMS has really provided.