ABC Australia has issued an apology to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and Archbishop Makarios after publishing a report that claimed Makarios had been using taxpayer money meant for old age homes on his own lifestyle.
ABC’s article was chiefly concerned with Makarios’ $6.5 million Sydney apartment overlooking the water, which they felt was a display of wealth unfit for the “vow of poverty” that comes with being a servant of the church.
But the articles claims were proven to be unfounded, and ABC stated in its apology that it “wishes to clarify that this story was not intended to suggest that Archbishop Makarios of Australia had personally funneled money from St Basils to the Greek Orthodox Church, or that he had personally spent money intended for aged care on his own lifestyle.”
The Archdiocese released its own statement saying that with this apology “the ABC confirmed very distinctly the absurdity and unfoundedness of the correlation between both the dire situation which the pandemic caused in 2020 at St Basil’s Homes in Melbourne, and the news agency’s details regarding the financial management of previous years, with the person and mindset of His Eminence, Archbishop of Australia.”
The claims printed by ABC are “rendered void in its substance and entirety, since a structural element of its content – from its title even to its final claims – was the unmistakeable correlation of matters unrelated between the events and circumstances.”
The false claims ABC made against Archbishop Makarios
ABC, which itself is funded by taxpayer money, was ordered to pay Archbishop Makarios’ legal expenses in their entirety after falsely claiming that the Archdiocese, who owns 15 aged care homes dotted around Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, misused the federal funds received by these aged care facilities.
The report alleged that the Greek Orthodox Church’s aged care homes were passing this money directly back to the church. It specifically pointed to the case of St. Basil’s care home in Melbourne, where 45 residents died in Australia’s deadliest COVID outbreak.
ABC claimed 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 that 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.
But the Archdiocese said in their statement that the conclusions drawn by ABC were “the reproduction and invocation of rumours and anonymous information.”