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GOA Takes Another Step on Conflicts of Interest: What Does It mean for Astoria?

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By Nick Stamatakis

Last week (link here) we expressed our curiosity whether the Letter on Conflict of Interest sent last May by GOA Chancellor Fr.Andreas Vithoulkas to the presiding priest of Astoria Fr. Nektarios (a unique historical event as we realized), will be followed up with any further action in Astoria and elsewhere. After all, “conflicts of interest” are a widespread phenomenon in the GOA despite the fact that the 2017 Uniform Parish Regulations (UPR) provide specific rules on how to deal with the issue.  Not only UPR provide specific norms but also state laws regarding the organization of non-profits are also very specific on “conflicts of interest”. Yet, those exploiting parish finances for their own personal benefit continued unabashed, on the same track, making believe that the parish is their own personal business; like true “Mafiosi” they have for years “demarcated their territory” and they think that they have every right to profit from it… Totally shameless, they are in some cases assisted by priests and others in the Church hierarchy who were either afraid of their power or had equally self-serving interests in mind…

Last May’s letter by Fr.Andreas was vehemently rejected by the “Mafiosi” who run the Astoria parish for decades and have enriched themselves on parish money. It was “thrown to the garbage” we learned, and it was “adamantly rejected” especially by the one person specifically referred in it, Gary Sideris, the parish president, whose wife was – and still is -the principal of the elementary school for decades (in charge of a multi-million dollar budget!!) and his daughter is also employed there as a teacher.  Not only he threw the letter into the garbage but we learned recently that he now wants to be re-appointed in the parish and continue as president!!  Why is he so daring? Because he is “protected” by his “boss” the long-time “strongman” of Astoria and known “godfather” Andriotis…

But Father Andreas, the GOA Chancellor, this time seems to be determined to take pre-emptive action. We learned from multiple sources recently that in his letter to those wishing to become parish council members across GOA, where he requests their registration for the 2-hour course they need to take, he has attached a long list of possible “conflicts of interest” and requests the prospective members to declare their own conflicts BEFORE taking the course.  The detailed part listed there seems to be very similar to pages 57-58 of the 2017 UPR.  We have attached these 2 pages at the bottom of this post hoping to educate further our audience and raise awareness on this issue.

What does this action of Chancellor Fr.Andreas Vithoulkas mean for Astoria?  First, it means that Gary Sideris will not be allowed to be part of the parish council – period.  Second, it means that those who are employed by ALMA BANK / ALMA REALTY will be disqualified from holding any parish office. Did you hear that Mr.Papamichael?  According to the 2017 UPR you were supposed to have declared your conflicts of interest BEFORE you got elected at ANY parish office.  You did not. And so you have to resign, as you have violated a major clause of UPR.  If you do not resign Fr. Nektarios, according to UPR, has the right to petition your removal. We believe that he does not only have the right but also the obligation to do so.

ALMA Bank and ALMA Realty are “sister” companies and both of them are doing all kinds of business with GOA and several parishes.  Andriotis and ALMA Realty were the cause of great damage to the parish, even if one considers only the case of the sale of the Tambakis building in Wantagh. Andriotis, without considering anything and anyone, sold the building (after ALMA Realty was paid handsomely for fully renovating and managing it for a couple of years!!) in a very hot real estate market for the same amount ($700,000) the property was evaluated at the time of donation.

Yes, my friends, it is true! And then this “godfather” Andriotis wanted to present himself as a mega-donor and benefactor of the community!!  (Note: what exactly happened to this $700,000 we will explain in a separate piece soon – where we will talk about the building across the street from the church and the big waste of money along with new schemes by Andriotis and others…) Andriotis for some reason – despite being supposedly an expert himself on real estate – never truly wanted the parish to own any property, not even a “hospitality house” as it was proposed years earlier when he again sold another property belonging to the parish… And so the community cannot offer even limited housing for the few teachers who the bankrupt government of Greece sents to us with a meager salary of 20-25,000 per year and they can barely pay for their food… Forget about other poor fellow Orthodox Christians who happen to be in very difficult times and need a helping hand temporarily… What a shame for a community who handled an untold amount of money, tens of millions of dollars, over the last 4-5 decades – and still owns property worth over $150 million!…

We are hoping that the presiding priest of Astoria will now …grow the backbone to throw out the abusers of the parish money.  And that he will help install a decent new parish council from able members of a younger generation who are willing and able (and above all honest) to serve the parish and the Church.  And they have as a main goal to attract to the Church the younger generations of Greek and other Orthodox kicked out (or repelled by the presence of) the “Mafiosi”. Amen…

PS. We are learning that some of the “Astoria rats”, namely Koularmanis, are exploring “new business ventures” with the Whitestone and Flushing parishes, while they still have an active lawsuit against the Astoria parish.  How immoral and depraved could someone be to act in such a ridiculous way… Does GOA bless his actions? We cannot believe they do… Also, do the Whitestone and Flushing parishes ignore his past record in Astoria? We also cannot believe they do… If they do why don’t they call Fr.Nektarios for “references”?…

October 31, 2020, n.stamatakis@aol.com   www.helleniscope.com

FOR THE SPECIFIC LIST OF THE VARIOUS CONFLICTS OF INTEREST VIOLATIONS IN ASTORIA PLEASE REFER TO OUR PREVIOUS ARTICLE HERE…

FOR THE 2017 UPR ON CONFLICTS OF INTEREST PLEASE SEE BELOW…

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BELOW: PAGES 57 AND 58 OF THE 2017 UNIFORM PARISH REGULATIONS REGARDING CONFLICT OF INTEREST

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
CONFLICTS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
DISCLOSURE POLICY (“Policy”)
FOR OFFICERS, KEY EMPLOYEES, AND MEMBERS OF THE
ARCHDIOCESAN, METROPOLIS AND PARISH COUNCILS

Officers, Key Employees2, and Members of the Archdiocesan Council, the Direct
Archdiocesan District/Metropolis (collectively, “Local” or “Metropolis”) Councils and the
Parish Councils, herein referred to collectively as “Related Party or Related Parties” are
entrusted with sacred responsibilities which affect the whole of the Archdiocese3
. All such individuals shall honor that trust with honesty, competence, and care, in
managing the affairs of the Archdiocese and shall always act in the best interests of the
Archdiocese.
The purpose of this Policy is to set forth procedures for properly disclosing and
addressing conflicts of interest and related party transactions.
A “Conflict” exists when the financial or any other interest of a Related Party, or a
member of his/her immediate family, compete or conflict with the interests of the
Archdiocese, Metropolis, or Parish. For example, this includes situations in which an
individual’s judgment is or may be influenced by considerations of personal gain or
benefit to that individual, or his/her immediate family, or when participation in a decision
creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, whether or not such a conflict actually
exists. A Related Party Transaction means any transaction, agreement, or any other
arrangement in which a Related Party has a substantial financial interest, and in which
the Archdiocese, any Metropolis or any Parish is a participant. Other examples of
conflicts of interest or related party transactions are myriad and may take place in a
number of different contexts. Conflicts or Related Party Transactions may arise in
connection with investment of Church funds, in the providing of professional services,
or in the selling business goods.
Prior to or at the commencement of a new term of the Archdiocesan, Metropolis and
Parish Council, and annually thereafter, each Member of a Council shall be given a
copy of this Conflicts Disclosure Policy and shall sign the applicable Conflicts
Disclosure Statement (as attached hereto as Addenda A1-A3). The Council Member
shall disclose, to the best of his or her knowledge, any entity of which the Council
Member is a officer, director, trustee, member, owner (either as a sole proprietor or
partner), or employee, that has either has a relationship with the Archdiocese,
Metropolis or any Parish or any transaction between the Archdiocese, Metropolis, or
Parish and the Council Member, whereby the Council Member has a conflicting interest
or Related Party Transaction.
2 A “Key Employee” means any person who is in a position to exercise substantial influence
over the affairs of the Archdiocese, Metropolis, or local Parish, as applicable.
3 “Archdiocese” as used herein includes the Archdiocese, the Direct Archdiocesan
District/Metropolises and the Parishes.
44
If, at any time thereafter, an Archdiocesan Council or Local Council member
discovers that he/she may have a conflicting interest or is involved in a Related Party
Transaction, he/she shall immediately report it to the President, Vice President and
Secretary of the Council. If at any time thereafter, a Parish Council Member discovers
that he/she may have a conflicting interest or involved in a Related Party Transaction,
then he/she shall immediately report it to the Parish Priest, as well as to the President
and Secretary of the Parish Council. In all cases, the existence and resolution of any
conflict of interest or Related Party Transaction shall be documented in the appropriate
Council’s minutes, including the minutes of any meeting at which the conflict was
discussed or voted upon.
The determination of whether a conflict of interest exists shall be made, in the case
of an Archdiocesan Council Member or Local Council Member, by the President, Vice
President and Secretary. In the case of a Parish Council Member, the determination
shall be made by the Priest, Parish Council President and Parish Council Secretary
and their determination shall be disclosed to the Parish Council at its next meeting. The
minutes of the meeting shall reflect when the conflict of interest was disclosed and the
final determination on the matter. At any time, the Priest or any member of the Parish
Council may request a review by the respective Hierarch, whose determination shall be
final.
The Archdiocese, Metropolis, or any Parish shall not enter into any Related Party
Transaction unless the transaction is determined by, in the case of an Archdiocesan
Council Member or Metropolis Council Member, by the President, Vice President and
Secretary or in the case of a Parish Council Member, by the Priest, Parish Council
President and Parish Council Secretary, to be fair, reasonable, and in the best
interests of the Archdiocese, Metropolis, or Parish, as applicable. The minutes of the
meeting shall reflect when the Related Party Transaction was disclosed and the final
determination on the matter. Prior to entering into any Related Party Transaction, the
Council or authorized committee shall (1) consider alternative transactions to the
extent available, (2) approve the transaction by not less than a majority vote of the
Council members or committee members present at the meeting, and (3)
contemporaneously document in writing the basis for the approval, including
consideration of any alternative transactions. In the case of the Archdiocese, the
Archbishop shall make the final determination of fairness, reasonableness, and best
interest. At the Metropolis and Parish level, the Metropolitan shall make this final
determination.
All Related Parties have the ongoing duty to disclose conflicts of interests and
related party transactions to appropriate Council or authorized committee at the earliest
moment possible. The disclosure shall be made in good faith and shall include all
material facts of the conflict of interest or Related Party Transaction. No Key Employee,
officer, or Member of any Council may participate in deliberations or voting related to
consideration of the conflict of interest or related party transaction. Further, no Related
Party shall attempt to improperly influence the deliberation or voting related to the
consideration of the particular conflict of interest or Related Party Transaction.
However, the foregoing shall not preclude the Related Party from providing information
at the Council or committee’s request prior to the commencement of deliberations or
voting. In no event shall the affected Related Party be present or participate in any
deliberations on the matter or be present when the vote on the matter is taken.
A lay employee of: a) the Archdiocese, shall not serve as a member of the
Archdiocesan Council; b) the Metropolis, shall not serve as a member of the Metropolis
Council; or c) a Parish, shall not serve as a member of the Parish Council.
45
ADDENDUM A-1
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
Conflicts and Related Party Transactions Disclosure Policy Statement —
Archdiocesan Council
For Officers, Key Employees4 and Members of the Archdiocesan Council of the Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese of America5 (“Council”):
I, _________________________, understand and agree that my role as an
Archdiocesan Council member is one of sacred honor, trust and responsibility. As such,
I will, with honesty, competence and care, act at all times in the best interests of the
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
I have received and read a copy of the Conflicts and Related Party Transactions
Disclosure Policy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. I agree to fully abide
by the Policy. I affirm that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not engaged in any activity
or business, or have any other association that would pose a financial or other conflict
with the best interests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, or engaged in any
Related Party Transaction except as has been disclosed, in writing, to the
President, Vice President and Secretary of the Archdiocesan Council as follows:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
I further state I have disclosed above, and to the individuals specified above, the identity
of any entity (“my entity”) of which I am an officer, director, trustee, member, owner
(either as a sole proprietor or partner), or employee, that either has a relationship with
the Archdiocese, Metropolis or any Parish, or a transaction between the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of America and myself (or my entity), whereby I have a conflicting interest
or a Related Party Transaction.
If I become aware of any conflicting interest or Related Party Transaction that arises
after the date of this affirmation, I will immediately disclose that conflict or transaction, in
writing, to the individuals specified above.
Date: _________________ Signature: ___________________________

Printed Name: __________________________
Archdiocesan Council Conflicts and Related Party Transactions Disclosure Policy Statement. Rev.10.20.2017
4 A “Key Employee” means any person who is in a position to exercise substantial influence over the
affairs of the Archdiocese, Metropolis, or local Parish, as applicable. 5 The “Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” includes the Archdiocese, the Direct Archdiocesan
District /Metropolises (“Local” or “Metropolis”) and the Parishes.
46
ADDENDUM A-2
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
Conflicts and Related Party Transactions Disclosure Policy Statement —
Metropolis/Local Council
For Officers, Key Employees6 and Members of the Metropolis/Local Council of the
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America7 (“Council”):
I, _________________________, understand and agree that my role as a
Metropolis/Local Council member is one of sacred honor, trust and responsibility. As
such, I will, with honesty, competence and care, act at all times in the best interests of
the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
I have received and read a copy of the Conflicts and Related Party Transactions
Disclosure Policy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. I agree to fully abide
by the Policy. I affirm that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not engaged in any activity
or business, or have any other association that would pose a financial or other conflict
with the best interests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, or engaged in any
Related Party Transaction except as has been disclosed, in writing, to the
President, Vice President and Secretary of the Metropolis/Local Council as
follows:
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
I further state I have disclosed above, and to the individuals specified above, the identity
of any entity (“my entity”) of which I am an officer, director, trustee, member, owner
(either as a sole proprietor or partner), or employee, that either has a relationship with
the Archdiocese, Metropolis or any Parish, or a transaction between the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of America and myself (or my entity), whereby I have a conflicting interest
or a Related Party Transaction.
If I become aware of any conflicting interest or Related Party Transaction that arises
after the date of this affirmation, I will immediately disclose that conflict or transaction, in
writing, to the individuals specified above.
Date: _________________ Signature: ___________________________

Printed Name: __________________________
Metropolis/Local Council Conflicts and Related Party Transactions Disclosure Policy Statement. Rev.10.20.2017
6 A “Key Employee” means any person who is in a position to exercise substantial influence over the
affairs of the Archdiocese, Metropolis, or local Parish, as applicable. 7 The “Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” includes the Archdiocese, the Direct Archdiocesan
District /Metropolises (“Local” or “Metropolis”) and the Parishes.
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