Former Leader of Hindu Temple of Georgia Convicted on Fraud and Obstruction Charges
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, was convicted of 34 felony counts following a two-week jury trial.
“This defendant traded on his perceived religious authority and spiritual powers to cheat the faithful who believed in him,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The jury saw through his deception, and he is being held accountable for his fraud.”
“Annamalai Annamalai clearly took advantage of his religious standing in the community as well as the individuals who respected and revered him” stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. He used deceit and fraud, to circumvent the bankruptcy courts and to collect money for his own personal benefit. Today’s verdict should send a strong message that this will not be tolerated.”
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 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 submitted false documentation to the credit card companies in support of the unauthorized charges, which formed the basis for his conviction on bank fraud charges.
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. Annamalai was convicted of 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 was also convicted of bankruptcy fraud offenses in connection with the Hindu Temple’s petition for bankruptcy protection in August 2009. Annamalai concealed assets from creditors and others by diverting credit card receipts and donations intended for the Hindu Temple to a bank account in the name of a different entity. Annamalai was also convicted of money laundering for using proceeds from the bankruptcy fraud to pay mortgages on properties that he owned, and payments to himself.
Annamalai was also convicted on three counts of obstruction and false statements in connection with the grand jury investigation and the bankruptcy proceeding. Annamalai transmitted a fraudulent e-mail to an IRS Special Agent, which was falsely made to appear as if the e-mail had been written and authored by a witness of the criminal investigation. 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.
Finally, Annamalai was convicted of conspiring with his spouse and co-defendant, Parvathi Sivanadiyan, and others to conceal the arrest of co-defendant Kumar Chinnathambi. Chinnathambi was later arrested and pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud on July 17, 2014. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 24, 2014, at 10 a.m. before District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. Sivanadiyan is awaiting trial.
Annamalai was convicted of bank fraud offenses, filing a false tax return, bankruptcy fraud offenses, money laundering, obstruction, false statement offenses, and conspiring to conceal a person from arrest. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 13, 2014, at 10 a.m. before District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with valuable assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Steven D. Grimberg and Samir Kaushal are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Pressefirstname.lastname@example.org 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/.