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Mumbai: ‘Why was school fund given to gold dealer?’

Updated on: 12 July,2023 07:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sanjeev Shivadekar |

Founder of prominent school in Kandivli, Borivili accuses education trust of transferring R2.95 crore to bullion firm; charity commissioner launch probe

Mumbai: ‘Why was school fund given to gold dealer?’

Bouncers on the premises of Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College at Gorai, Borivli West, on Tuesday. Pics/Nimesh Dave

American Education Trust, which runs a prominent school in Kandivli and Borivli, is being probed by the charity commissioner for a transfer of Rs 2.95 crore to a bullion company during the pandemic. The complainant, a founder of the school, said the other trustees have hired bouncers at the Borivli branch to prevent him from entering the premises.

Although the Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College management has refuted the allegations, the transfer records show that Rs 2.95 crore was sent to S Mahendrakumar Devichand (SMD), a bullion dealer in the city.

The transfer was made during COVID-19 pandemic when teachers and other staff members were allegedly made to take a pay cut. According to the bank statement Patel shared with mid-day, the trust transferred the amount to SMD on April 3, 2021.

Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College at Parekh Nagar, in Kandivli West, on TuesdaySwami Vivekanand International School and Junior College at Parekh Nagar, in Kandivli West, on Tuesday

Yogesh Patel, the school’s founder and managing trustee who has approached the charity commissioner, told mid-day that he red flagged the transfer on grounds that it was done without a board resolution and without permission from the charity commissioner’s office.

“Moreover, what does the school management have to do with a company that deals in gold and silver? Besides, there are several other transfers totalling a few crore rupees to companies that are not connected to education or teaching at all. Why were such huge funds transferred? All these questions need to be answered. Hence, I complained to the charity commissioner’s office, seeking a detailed probe and forensic audit of the trust’s accounts.”

Patel started Swami Vivekanand International School and Junior College in 1998. In 2012-13, Sandeep Goenka was inducted as one of the trustees. In 2020, the trustees started having disputes over alleged irregularities in the trust’s management.

Patel then approached the charity commissioner in 2021 and filed a complaint against Goenka with the Borivli police in 2022, accusing illegal activities by his co-trustees. Goenka, meanwhile, filed a counter complaint, alleging Patel had levelled false accusations because he had been removed as the trustee.

“The complaints are with an intention to disturb the smooth functioning of our school and the trust. The matter is subjudice before the court of law and hence we do not want to comment. Justice will prevail,” Goenka told mid-day.

Bouncers at Borivli school

When the dispute among trustees began in 2021, the trust barred Yogesh Patel from entering the school’s Borivli branch and deployed bouncers to keep him out. Patel then approached the Citizen Rights Protection Committee (CRPC), an NGO, for help. In 2022, after two incidents of parents being manhandled by bouncers, school education department stated that bouncers should not be deployed on academic premises. This was reiterated by the then deputy speaker of the Legislative Council Neelam Gorhe.  The trustees violated this instruction and the Borivli police turned a blind eye, said CRPC. In January 2023, CRPC head Darshan Soni and Patel met police chief Vivek Phansalkar. They said the CP called up the senior officers of Zone 11 and instructed them to get bouncers out of the the school immediately. “It has been over five months, but the Borivli police are yet to act on the CP’s instructions,” Patel said.

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