Preliminary Findings about St. Nicholas Announced at Archdiocesan Council

In this Aug. 10, 2017 photo, Jerry Dimitriou, former executive director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, describes the construction progress at the St. Nicholas National Shrine in New York. The Greek Orthodox church, taking shape across from the World Trade Center memorial plaza, will glow at night like a marble beacon when it opens sometime next year. It also will mark another step in the long rebuilding of New York's ground zero. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

PITTSBURGH – A preliminary report about the investigation of St. Nicholas issue was given at the spring meeting of the Archdiocesan Council in Pittsburgh, according to a News Release issued by the Archdiocese.

Specifically the News Release has as follows: : On May 4, 2018, Elaine Allen, Chairman of the Standing Audit Committee of the Archdiocesan Council, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, announced the substantial completion of Phase 1 of the St. Nicholas Special Investigative Committee’ s (SIC) investigation into the management and finances of the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine project. The SIC has received PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Phase 1 draft report and is expected to announce its findings to the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council imminently.

Among key findings from Phase 1, the amount owed by the Archdiocese to St. Nicholas has been confirmed to be less than $3.7 million, with the exact dollar figure to be finalized in the coming weeks. Moreover, the review found that all other monies raised to fund the St. Nicholas project are accounted for, and that the expenditure of these funds was consistent with donor restrictions.

As a result of the aggressive financial restructuring efforts undertaken by the Archdiocese over the last year, led by Treasurer Mike Psaros, the Archdiocese has already repaid $1million of the pending total amount it owes to St. Nicholas, and will voluntarily pay interest on the full amount owed to the project. The Archdiocese will also make a voluntary contribution of $670,000 to St. Nicholas. This amount represents the full amount of unrestricted investment returns generated on donations from 2001 – 2012.

Finally, Ms. Allen announced that the Archdiocese will repay its debt to St. Nicholas with interest. The amount of the interest payment will be confirmed following the SIC’s completion of the findings report, which will include the finalized amount owed by the Archdiocese to St. Nicholas.

Phase 2 of the SIC’s investigation is also being conducted by PwC. The work is ongoing and includes a review of the St. Nicholas project’s baseline costs and cost increases, a review of design changes, and an analysis of vendor payments with the goal of identifying potential non-disclosed relationships between the St. Nicholas project management team and vendors paid with St. Nicholas funds. The SIC’s findings report is expected to complete within one month.

Immediately following the completion of Phase 2, Phase 3 of the SIC’s investigation will begin. It will largely be a project management and design exercise intended to finalize construction plans, costs, and a revised timeline for completion of the project.
The SIC is committed to completing its comprehensive and exhaustive investigation into mismanagement allegations around the St. Nicholas project, and to addressing all issues potentially raised in this investigation before construction proceeds.

The St. Nicholas Church will be a sacred space with its doors open to all. As a National Shrine on hallowed ground, it will stand in memorial to the lives lost on September 11, 2001, as a symbol of reconciliation, and as a spiritual beacon of hope and for generations to come. The Archdiocese remains committed to the completion of this deeply meaningful landmark and spiritual capstone to the World Trade Center site redevelopment effort.

10 Comments

  1. Where was the Standing Audit Committee before all this? Seems like the archdiocese was fiddling with the funds from 2001 in the beginning.

    We need to know a lot more.

    In the trades, this job was de-mobilized. Restart costs will be significant. Vendors will want hefty deposits in advance or Letters of Credit.

    And while we’re at it, add the invoices from PR teams, white collar crime attorneys, accountants, and what have you, to the total costs.

    And once completed ( let’s assume), who operates this and to what standard? Or is this another debacle in the making once finished? The archdiocese can’t keep its 3 story elevators operating, much less a world landmark.

    Ask yourself, is good money chasing bad money?

  2. Another way to look at the number is that it was 10% of the actual funds raise ( forget pledges as no one will honor those now). That’s just pure theft – nothing more.

    And in the interest of transparency, what did those stolen funds pay for – bloated payroll, unnecessary travel, a chauffeured car?

  3. The amount missing from the St. Nicholas fund is “less than $3.5 million”. As if that’s somehow good news. That’s a lot of money. But, even if it was $100.00 it would be a lot of money. When you have all the philoptochos and all the AHEPAs and everyone who donated and they hear that their hard earned money was embezzled, why should there be any trust left? Whoever is responsible for this theft, even if its paid back in full, should be prosecuted and imprisoned. And then, when he meets his God, further punishment will be forthcoming. Because its not the money alone that was mishandled and stolen, its also the loss of trust, the disappointment, the disillusion, the anger, by the faithful, that has caused great damage. And, what’s worse, is that, if the National Herald hadn’t blown the whistle, this would still be going on. Why should we trust the parish priest, the metropolitan, or the Archbishop that preach to us about about giving our time, talent and treasure and supporting the church, when they can’t be trusted with our money? What can we say to the youth of our parishes? We can only tell them the truth and if they turn away from the church, it would be on the souls of those responsible for this tragedy. Shame , shame on all those responsible. How can you sleep at night?

  4. The path forward must include Transparency, Forgiveness, Vision and a new Structure and leadership.
    Our communities are the bedrock of the Omogenia and must be protected at all costs as we hope and pray for the Mother Church to lead us past this crisis.

    1. The Mother Church’s blindness and neglect led us into this mess. The Mother Church has neither the technical ability nor the moral compass to lead us out of this mess. We hav yet to see any real transparency and you can offer true forgiveness until the guilty party first offers an apology. Our bishops are largely corrupt and/or incompetent. God help us.

    2. The Mother Church’s blindness and neglect led us into this mess. The Mother Church has neither the technical ability nor the moral compass to lead us out of this mess. We hav yet to see any real transparency and you can offer true forgiveness until the guilty party first offers an apology. Our bishops are largely corrupt and/or incompetent. God help us..

  5. The bottom line is this is the exact information the Executive Board led by the treasurer had a year ago. Nothing illegal, no misappropriation of funds; just his spin to make people think he is important and the only one who knows what he is doing. A worst Greek tragedy ever! People should read the letter being circulated by concerned finance committee members from across the country which gives facts that the GOA contineu to spin. Ask your archdiocesean Metropolis board representatives. They all have it and should be thankful people are finally speaking out. This is what must be discussed in Boston. Don’t continue to insult our intelligence with false number and worthless accusations. All these horrific attempts to discredit others have failed. We are intelligent people who will not stand for this fake news by the Executive board.

  6. Mimikos is a sweet old man, full of platitudes and white lies that weave the peplon of otherwise vacuous Greek society.

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