MANILA, Philippines – Facing accusations of money laundering, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) dared its critics to prove it is hiding cash in offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or in Switzerland.
“If they can prove that any of our INC leaders have offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands or in Switzerland, they can have the cash in all of them,” INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said Friday, December 4.
Zabala also said the INC is “willing to sign a waiver” to make this happen.
The INC spokesman issued this statement after expelled INC ministers, Vincent Florida and Isaias Samson Jr, said there have been reports that INC leaders keep church funds in offshore bank accounts.
Florida cited reports that an INC-owned airbus has been spotted flying to countries where the INC has no congregations.
Rappler reported in July that INC leaders, including INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, have used its Airbus 330 for trips abroad.
The INC’s airbus was later set to be sold.
Florida said, “The only reason why they would go to countries like that – like for instance, the Cayman Islands – would be for the purposes of taking the cash and then putting it into banking institutions there.”
One in ‘desire for truth’
Samson, another expelled minister, relayed the same reports.
In a teleconference with Rappler on Tuesday, December 1, Florida said the hidden funds include donations from INC members in the US.
He said the INC failed to declare these donations to the US tax collection agency, the Internal Revenue Service.
Reacting to Florida’s claims, Zabala said on Friday: “The leadership shall respond to the allegations of Mr Florida in due time and in the proper forum. As of this moment, we have not received a copy of the supposed complaint.”
He added: “We do not wish to speculate either on its content or the motive behind it. United in our faith in the Almighty and in the fairness of the justice system, we assure the public that we will cooperate with the proper authorities. We are one with you in the desire for truth.”
Registered in the Philippines in 1914, the century-old church is facing its worst crisis after siblings of its leader, Manalo, exposed the alleged wrongdoings within the INC.
The crisis has prompted INC leaders like Florida to also speak up. – Rappler.com
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