12.13.06. BREAKING NEWS!
HISTORIC JOINT MEETING CLEARLY SETS FORTH
NEW DIRECTION FOR OCA
• Allegations Of Financial Impropriety Confirmed,
Detailed in Oral Report by Proskauer Rose LLP
• Special Church Commission, Led by Archbishop Job,
Established to Continue Investigation
• Possible Disciplinary Action by Synod
Late Tuesday night the extraordinary joint session of the OCA's Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council
unexpectedly released the following statement,
reprinted here in full:
"SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America and the Metropolitan Council concluded the first day of their extraordinary two-day joint meeting here on Tuesday, December 12, 2006.
The complete text of a statement issued at the end of their session reads as follows.
"The questions regarding the allegations of financial improprieties were addressed today in an all-day joint session of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council in a historic step forward. Presentations by the accounting firm Lambrides Lamos Moulthrop LLP and the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, confirmed the following allegations:
"1. Processes in place for administrative and financial controls have been circumvented since at least 1998.
"2. There were numerous unsubstantiated large cash withdrawals.
"3. Personal credit card abuses using Church funds were documented.
"4. Numerous trips were taken without the submission of appropriate documentation but were nonetheless reimbursed.
"5. Attempts to divert monies designated to various charities were clearly indicated and in some cases documented.
"6. Examination of Church appeals from 2001 to 2005 revealed that meaningful reports could not be rendered due to lack of appropriate documentation.
"7. Pattern of personal use of Church money was exhibited for a number of years.
"8. Lack of timely financial reports and in some cases, false reports, were submitted.
"9. Large amounts of Church funds were used to improperly pay for personal items.
"The severity of some of the problems could not be fully determined due to a lack of documentation. However, these abuses of Church trust were determined to be centered on and around one individual and were not found to be widespread among the employees of the Church.
"The participants of the joint session were stunned by the magnitude of today's revelations and have agreed to implement the following actions:
"1. A Special Committee was appointed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman to complete the investigation by Proskauer Rose and to keep the Metropolitan Council advised of developments as they occur. The Committee consists of His Eminence, Job, Archbishop of Chicago, Diocese of the Midwest; His Grace, Benjamin, Bishop of Berkeley, Administrator of the Diocese of the West; Very Reverend Vladimir Berzonsky, Diocese of the Midwest; Very Reverend John Reeves, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; Mr. Gregory Nescott, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; and Dr. Faith Skordinski, Diocese of Washington and New York.
"2. The Holy Synod will discuss what disciplinary action, if any, will be recommended.
"3. The Metropolitan Council will oversee the implementation of appropriate accounting procedures in the OCA's accounting office, which will include the replacement of antiquated accounting systems.
"There is still much work to do, and many details need attention. But the new direction is clear -- changes need to be made in order to bring the Church up to the high level of accountability that is expected of it."
The joint meeting will conclude on Wednesday, December 13."