NEW YORK – Bishop Andoniosof Phasiane, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, in an interview with The National Herald about the preliminary audit into the finances of the St. Spyridon parish in New York City stated that “if we find anything most definitely we are going to do what should be done, we are not going to cover up” anything.
Speaking about the former priest George Passias he said “unfortunately, Passias was who he was and he knew how to cover his tracks.”
The interview follows:
TNH: Your Grace what can you tell us about the audit of the finances of St. Spyridon?
BA:I can’t tell you anything at this moment because it was not the final, it was a draft. We are going to have a meeting at the end of the month to discuss different things. We are going to state our opinions and from there correct, change or add to what [the auditors] prepared.Then we will know how to procced.
TNH: Why the audit was limited only to two years, 2014 and 2015, and not to previous years?
BA: Because of the cost. The audit is extremely expensive. That is why they decided to do those two years and [depending on the results, to expand it]. I don’t know how much this audit is finally going to cost, but we are talking a lot of money, about $75,000.
TNH: The firm told you to also do the year 2013 and you said no.
BA: I didn’t say that, the Finance Committee said let us do two years and we will see, because those two years will give us some knowledge of what has transpired. From that point on, if we think that we should do other years we will say yes. We don’t have any reason to the contrary.
TNH: Why didn’tthe Archdiocese do anything all these years that it was getting information by parish officials?
BA: Many times we checked, we looked, but there was no evidence. Unfortunately, Passias was who he was and he knew how to cover his tracks.
TNH: Will the Archdiocese legally proceed against Passias?
BA: It depends what the audit finally shows. With the consultation of the lawyer, we will do what we have to do. If we should go to the attorney general and turn over the evidence, we will.
TNH: Do you have an opinion about the management of St. Spyridon’s real estate holdings by Steve Valiotis’ Alma Realty company?
BA: I don’t know, I don’t know. There are some observations [in the audit], but in order to be fair we have to ask how theywould answer to these observations. We must call the people who represent Alma Realty and tell them that the auditors say this, what is your answer? We have to listen to the other side too.
TNH: How much weight do you give to the firm that contacted the audit? How serious it is?
BA: I didn’t know, but the firm that audits the books of the Archdiocese recommended it…But please know that if we find anything most definitely we are going to do what should be done, we are not going to cover up anything.