News and Press Releases

Former Leader of Hindu Temple of Georgia Charged With Defrauding His Followers and Temple’s Creditors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2014

ATLANTA – Annamalai Annamalai, a/k/a Dr. Commander Selvam, a/k/a Swamiji Sri Selvam Siddhar, the former leader of the now defunct Hindu Temple of Georgia, has been charged in a superseding indictment with 32 counts of fraud and obstruction-related charges.

“This defendant is charged with using his position in the temple to promote his fraud schemes,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “We urge anyone who believes they may have been defrauded by this defendant to notify law enforcement.”

"Annamalai exploited his position as a leader and spiritual adviser to enrich himself, by fleecing the people who trusted him with their most personal information," stated IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot.  "IRS Criminal Investigation has 'followed the money trail' to ensure that these actions do not go unpunished."

According to United States Attorney Yates, the indictment, and other information presented in court:  Annamalai generated income through the Hindu Temple of Georgia (“the Hindu Temple”) by charging fees to his followers in exchange for providing spiritual or related services.   In a typical transaction, a follower agreed to purchase a particular service for a communicated price, and provided a credit card number by telephone to guarantee payment.  Annamalai allegedly caused the followers’ credit card numbers to be charged on multiple occasions, in excess of the agreed amount and without authorization.  If the followers disputed the charges with their respective credit card companies, Annamalai allegedly submitted false documentation to the credit card companies in support of the unauthorized charges. 

For example, in some instances Annamalai delivered a free magazine to the followers through the United States mail with a certified mail receipt.  The followers had not requested the free magazine, but it is alleged that Annamalai later submitted the signed certified mail receipt to the followers’ credit card companies in a false attempt to demonstrate that the followers had agreed to the disputed charges.  The superseding indictment charges Annamalai with seven counts of bank fraud for causing false documents to be submitted to his followers’ credit card companies.  The superseding indictment further alleges that the income generated by the Hindu Temple through these credit card charges was used to fund the personal lifestyle of Annamalai and his family, who owned or controlled numerous homes and real properties, luxury vehicles, and foreign bank accounts in India.

The superseding indictment also charges Annamalai with willfully filing a false tax return for the 2007 year, for failing to disclose his financial interest in foreign bank accounts held in India.

Annamalai, 48, of Baytown, Texas, and a co-defendant are also charged with one count of conspiring to commit bankruptcy fraud and 10 counts of bankruptcy fraud, in connection with the Hindu Temple’s petition for bankruptcy protection in August 2009.  It is alleged that Annamalai and his co-defendant concealed assets from creditors and others by diverting credit card receipts and donations intended for the Hindu Temple to bank accounts in the name of a different entity.  Annamalai is also charged with 10 counts of money laundering for allegedly using proceeds from the bankruptcy fraud to pay mortgages on properties that he owned, and payments to himself.

Finally, Annamalai is charged with three counts of obstruction or false statements in connection with the grand jury investigation and the bankruptcy proceeding.  It is alleged that Annamalai transmitted a fraudulent email to an IRS Special Agent, which was falsely made to appear as if the email had been written and authored by a witness of the criminal investigation.  The superseding indictment also alleges that Annamalai submitted a false affidavit to the grand jury, and a false affidavit to the Bankruptcy Court in connection with the Hindu Temple’s bankruptcy proceeding.  Annamalai was detained following his arrest in November 2013, and remains in custody.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.  The United States Trustee’s Office provided valuable assistance throughout the investigation.

Individuals who believe they have been the victims of these alleged schemes are encouraged to call 404-338-7533. 

Assistant United States Attorney Steven D. Grimberg is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

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