NEW YORK – A large number of attorneys are dealing with the issue of former Executive Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Jerry Dimitriou regarding the findings of the Accounting Firm Kiwi Associates. The National Herald has learned that that they already held two teleconferences and it was decided to refer the issue to the Attorney General of New York as a criminal offence.
An accounting specialist firm, Kiwi Associates began a review of the Archdiocese’s payroll and compensation on December 1. Kiwi returned its findings three weeks ago, having identified “specific payroll discrepancies associated with former staff of the Archdiocese,” the Archdiocese said in press release.
TNH has learned that allegedly,Dimitriou was taking “significant and unprecedented irregularities” regarding payroll and was using the credit card of the Archdiocese, specifically American Express, to pay personal expenses including family vacations.
Dimitriou didn’t respond to TNH’s request for comment.
In the Archdiocese as The National Herald has reported there was total lack of internal processes and controls, which was later confirmed by the Thornton Firm. The only one who had the authority to write and sign checks was Dimitriou, without anyone checking.
The Archdiocese sent a letter to Dimitriou asking him to pay the money back. Also, it stopped the payments of his $300,000 severance pay.As TNH reported, when Dimitriou was ousted from the Archdiocese, Demetrios insisted on giving him a severance payment of $300,000 despite the Archdiocese’s dire financial situation and despite objection from Archdiocesan officials.
TNH has learned that Dimitriou’s annual salary was $315,000, while it was increased by $150,000 in addition to benefits, car leasing, and use of the American Express credit card.
Dimitriou was making all the reservations for the Archdiocesan Council meetings and the Clergy Laity Congress of the Archdiocese, choosing almost always Marriott hotels. He evened booked the Copley Marriott in Boston for the July Clergy Laity Congress without even notifying the local hierarch, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.
The authorities asked all of this to be kept confidential. Dimitriou knows all this and he changed that when he sent the letter to Archbishop Demetrios dated January 24, stating that he had full knowledge about the finances and the decisions of the Archdiocese. The archbishop had maintained up to now that he didn’t know anything. TNH had insisted that the archbishop was fully aware of what is going on in the finances of the Archdiocese as well as for the building of Saint. Nicholas at Ground Zero in Manhattan.
On January 25, Demetrios was working closely with his legal advisors of the Archdiocese including George Tsandikos, chairman of the Leadership 100 and also Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council,and they issued the following press release:
“ARCHDIOCESE COMMITTED TO TOTAL TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
“The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is committed to total transparency and accountability, so that through strict adherence to established governance, it may ensure its ability to meet the spiritual needs of the Faithful.
“In December of last year, the Archdiocese engaged Kiwi Associates, an independent accounting firm, to launch a special review of Archdiocesan payroll records for 2016 and 2017.During their review, they identified specific payroll discrepancies associated with former staff of the Archdiocese.
“’This discovery’ stated His Grace, Bishop Andonios, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, ‘led the Archdiocese to immediately undertake a far closer inspection of its payroll and credit card expenses for the 5 year period between the beginning of 2013 and end of 2017. That separate investigation revealed significant and unprecedented irregularities,’ the Bishop explained. ‘The investigation of these matters continues.’
“Consistent with prior disclosures, beginning in April 2017, the Archdiocese implemented appropriate internal payroll controls with rigorous internal oversight and periodic independent reviews, now a permanent requirement. The Archdiocese had also adopted strict controls regarding the issuance and use of corporate credit cards.
“’We shall pursue all available remedies to address the discrepancies but, while doing so, we have created far stronger audit and control procedures, additional oversight and strict reviews,’ continued His Grace. ‘Those who would seek to divert attention from this serious issue by falsely accusing His Eminence, or others, of indifference in confronting the financial challenges facing the Archdiocese, ignore the facts while bringing no honor upon themselves,’ he concluded.”