Chios Police carried out a raid on Thursday (Greece time) on the local branch of the Ark of the World (Kivotos tou Kosmou) children’s charity, which is under investigation following accusations of sexual, physical abuse and other crimes.
The sting took place after authorities were alerted to suspected discrepancies in the branch’s financial management, according to Kathimerini.
The organisation’s finances have come under scrutiny as previous reports of illegal activities started being investigated by the Greek Ombudsman.
Allegations of fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes started to emerge earlier this week stretching to the top of the organisation’s hierarchy.
The investigations are so far focusing on the charity’s founder, Father Antonios Papanikolaou, his wife and three close associates.
The allegations of sexual abuse reported at the homes of the children’s charity have shocked public opinion. Not only because hundreds of children have grown up in the six accommodation facilities of the NGO throughout Greece in recent decades, but mainly because the image people had of the charity’s founder, Father Antonios Papanikolaou, was completely different, starting from 2007, when he created the first home in the Athenian district of Kolonos.
In several interviews over the years, Fr Antonios would state that The Ark of the World had never received state/government funds. It has recently been revealed that that isn’t so. Several government organisations and state councils had donated large amounts of money to the charity.
Meanwhile, testimonies have surfaced that many material donations, mainly clothes and toys sent to Kivotos for the children were being burned without being distributed “because they are too many”.
At the same time a probe has been launched into the residence of Fr Antonios in the South of Attika and his luxury cars.
The Ark of the World was at the top of the most respected charities for mothers and children in Greece having received many anonymous and eponymous donations from big corporations, politicians, millionaires and billionaires, local and international celebrities and energy companies. It has also inherited large amounts of money and even property from private citizens who have passed and donated everything they owned to the charity in hope that it would ensure better care for displaced minors and mothers doing it hard.
Many of those benefactors are now demanding Greece’s judicial system steps in and investigates what has happened to their donations.