15 April 2021
‘A group of taxpayer-funded aged care homes funnelled $31 million back into the coffers of one of Australia’s largest churches, an ABC investigation has found.
The homes include St Basil’s in Melbourne, where 45 residents died in Australia’s deadliest COVID outbreak.
In the past eight years, St Basil’s paid more than $22 million in rent and fees to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese while receiving federal government funding.
A commercial real estate agent told Background Briefing this was double the rental market rate.
Towards the end of that period, the church was funding the lavish lifestyle of its newly appointed Archbishop, including the purchase of a $6.5 million Sydney apartment with harbour views.
“One thing that pops out immediately on the St Basil’s filings is the amount of rent paid to the church,” said Jason Ward, an aged care expert from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research, who examined St Basil’s financial disclosures for the ABC.
“There are other operating expenses which are never explained or classified. What is disclosed is that a portion of that is fees to the Greek Orthodox Church.”
St Basil’s has received nearly $73 million in taxpayer funding over the past eight years …’