German “luxury bishop” settles with court over 1st class flight-to-poverty case

German “luxury bishop” settles with court over 1st class flight-to-poverty case

Mon, Nov 18 2013

BERLIN (Reuters) – A German court has dropped for the time being an investigation into a Roman Catholic prelate known as the “luxury bishop” over accusations he lied under oath about taking a first-class flight to visit poverty projects in India. State prosecutors had sought to have Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg fined for making false affidavits about the flight, but the court accepted a 20,000-euro settlement.The bishop has also been under scrutiny over separate revelations that he let costs for his new residence in Limburg run to 31 million euros, over six times the original estimate, triggering calls for his resignation.

Last month Pope Francis ordered him to leave his diocese while an investigation and audit into high costs were conducted.

In the case of the flight, prosecutors were investigating whether Tebartz-van Elst had lied under oath when he denied a report in Der Spiegel news magazine that he flew first-class to India to visit poverty projects.

Tebartz-van Elst, 53, said he flew business class. But Der Spiegel made public a mobile phone video recording of a conversation which triggered action by prosecutors in Hamburg.

“The criminal proceedings against the Bishop of Limburg have been suspended provisionally in exchange for 20,000 euros,” the Hamburg court said in a statement.

The decision had the consent of the state prosecutors, it said.

The Vatican sent an envoy in September to investigate protests in the diocese. Pope Francis then banished Tebartz-van Elst from his diocese on October 23 for spending so much of Church funds at a time when the pontiff is stressing austerity.

But he stopped short of dismissing him outright although Tebartz-van Elst was ordered to leave his diocese. The issue is an embarrassment for the pope, who has called for a more austere Church that sides with the poor.

Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed “the luxury bishop” by German media, has apologized for any “carelessness or misjudgment on my part” but denied wrongdoing.

The scandal also put pressure on bishops for more financial transparency in the entire Church in Germany, forcing them to scrap centuries of secrecy over the reporting the value of their private endowments.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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