The Greek Orthodox Church in Australia was accused of taking millions of dollars from taxpayer-funded aged care homes in a shocking report aired by the Australian Broadcast Corporation on Thursday.
The scathing report, which also targets Archbishop Makarios and his lifestyle, alleged that a group of aged care homes funneled 31 million Australian dollars ($24 million) back into the coffers of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.
ABC says that the Archdiocese owns 15 aged care homes dotted around Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, which receive aged care funding from the federal government.
Some of the Greek Orthodox Church’s aged care homes are passing money directly back to the church, the report alleges.
It highlights the case of St. Basil’s care home in Melbourne, where 45 residents died in Australia’s deadliest COVID outbreak.
Claim that St. Basil paid $22 million to Greek Orthodox Church
ABC claims that St. Basil paid more than $22 million in rent and fees to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese while the group received nearly $73 million in Federal funding over that time.
A commercial real estate agent told ABC’s Background Briefing this was double the rental market rate.
ABC interviewed real estate and tax experts such as Jason Ward, an aged care expert from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research. who assessed St. Basil’s final disclosures on behalf of the news organization.
“One thing that pops out immediately on the St. Basil’s filings is the amount of rent paid to the church,” he said.
“There are other operating expenses which are never explained or classified. What is disclosed is that a portion of that is fees to the Greek Orthodox church in Australia.”
A commercial real estate agent, who remained unnamed, told the ABC that the rent paid was double the rental market rate.
The alleged luxurious life of Archbishop Makarios
The report also comments on the luxurious life of Archbishop Makarios.
It says that in December 2019, the church bought him a new official residence in Millers Point, a luxurious apartment with sweeping views of Sydney Harbor and the Opera House.
It provoked outrage among the faithful, so in mid-2020 the Archdiocese issued a statement denying the Archbishop was living in the apartment.
But ABC’s Background Briefing says it has observed Archbishop Makarios’s Caprice entering and leaving the apartment complex.
The Archdiocese has now confirmed that he moved in earlier this year.
Sources say before he moved in, a $3 million renovation was carried out. The church said the renovation was paid for by a private donor.
The Archdiocese dismissed questions about the Archbishop’s lifestyle as “discourteous and ill-founded,” the ABC report states.
The report also accused the Archbishop for the cost of his clothes, driving a black Holden Caprice with personalized number plates (ARCHBM) and other lifestyle choices deemed too luxurious for a church representative.