“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Monday, April 19, 2010

Letter from Mr. Nick Bapis in Response to April 15, 2010 Parish Council Letter to the Greek Orthodox Community of Salt Lake City

April 18, 2010
Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Xristos Anesti.
In a letter dated April 15, 2010, the Parish Council informed the Greek Orthodox Community of Greater Salt Lake of financial transactions occurring at HighTower Advisors in church accounts. This letter is deliberately misleading and compels my response.
The following explanation points out several fallacies stated in the letter summarizing the Bapis Group involvement in the funds in question. Please keep in mind as you are reading through the following that funds custodied at financial institutions require authorized signatures before they can be transferred from one portfolio to another.
Note: All quoted excerpts refer to the Parish Council’s words in the April letter.
“Monies for the Holy Trinity Renovation Project have been donated to the Parish over a number of years, by various donors.”
Monies for the Holy Trinity Restoration (not Renovation) Project were donated by various donors to the Holy Trinity Restoration Project not DIRECTLY to the Parish General Account. These funds were designated for specific projects by the donors.
“Funds for the Holy Trinity Restoration Project were deposited in accounts at Morgan Stanley owned by the Parish and managed by the Bapis Group.”
Funds were deposited in the Holy Trinity Restoration Project in ONE portfolio (Holy Trinity Restoration Portfolio). These funds have been managed by the Bapis Group at NO cost to the Holy Trinity Restoration Portfolio. This portfolio was monitored by the Budget/Economic Sub-committee (see Appendix B). The Holy Trinity Restoration Committee was also referred to as the Hellenic Heritage Committee. This committee met every Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m. from June 1999 until the Holy Trinity restoration was completed.
”The Morgan Stanley accounts were apparently set up with three signatories, only one of which, Nick Varanakis, was a member of the Parish Council.”
The Morgan Stanley Portfolios WERE established (NOT APPARENTLY) by direction of the Holy Trinity Restoration Committee, with three signatories authorized by the Holy Trinity Restoration Committee (see Appendix C).
“On December 11, 2008 the monies in the Morgan Stanley Accounts were transferred to the new parish accounts at High Tower and opened under the Parish ID Number. The new High Tower accounts are managed by The Bapis Group and were apparently set up with the same three signatories.”
On or about December 11, 2008, the assets in the Morgan Stanley Portfolio were transferred to a new Holy Trinity Restoration portfolio at High Tower and opened under the Parish Tax I.D. number. The new High Tower portfolio is still managed by the Bapis Group and WAS set up (NOT APPARENTLY) with the three signatories authorized by the Holy Trinity Restoration Committee.
“The transfer of the monies from Morgan Stanley to High Tower was approved by the same three signatories and occurred without the knowledge or consent of the Parish Council. The transfer from Morgan Stanley to the High Tower was ratified in February 2009 by the then active Parish Council.”
The transfer of the monies from Morgan Stanley to Hightower was approved by the same three signatories who are authorized by the Holy Trinity Restoration Committee (including the Parish Council President at that time).
“In July of 2009, the signers on the High Tower account signed a form at the request of the Bapis Group purporting to authorize the transfer of $807,249 in funds designated for the construction of a new gymnasium at Holy Trinity (Gymnasium Funds) from the Parish account to a High Tower account owned by the HCF.”
On or about July of 2009 a new portfolio was established at High Tower known as the Holy Trinity Anthony Skedros Memorial Multi-purpose Center Portfolio at the request of Gregory Skedros in memory of his son and wife. This separate portfolio was funded by the Gregory Skedros Family and their acquaintances for temporary custodialship. These funds were part of endowments that were being dissolved. They were also funded by Gregory Skedros and were rolled over from his 401K retirement portfolio which were done in a timely matter to meet the distributions allowed by the Federal Government.
The Anthony Skedros Portfolio was then transferred to the Hellenic Community Foundation, authorized by the signatories of the Holy Trinity Restoration Fund for the purpose of beginning the fundraiser to raise the money for the Holy Trinity Anthony Skedros Multi-purpose Center. This transfer was at the request of the three authorized signatories (including the Parish Council President at that time) NOT the Bapis Group. High Tower executed the transfer based on the instructions from the three authorized signatories (including the Parish Council President).
This transfer was authorized by the same three signatories who authorized payment of ALL invoices for the Holy Trinity Restoration Project during construction. In addition, three different donors on three different occasions transferred funds with EXACTY the same protocol as the above transfer. One donor transferred money from the Restoration Fund to another non-profit. Another donor transferred money from the Restoration Fund to an Air Conditioning company to pay for an air conditioner at the Memorial Building. And the third funds were transferred from the Holy Trinity Restoration Fund to the Church’s general account to pay for stewardship obligations. All three transfers were upon the request of the pertinent parishioner and authorized by the same three signatories on the Holy Trinity Restoration Portfolio (including the Parish Council President at the time).
“The Gymnasium Funds were transferred to the HCF account on October 8, 2009.”
The Parish Council letter of April 15, 2010 referred to the HCF without explaining what this group is. The Hellenic Community Foundation (HCF) was formed after five years of planning which included various members of the Parish Council, specifically the Parish Council Executive Committee and more precisely the Parish Council treasurer. The Hellenic Community Foundation Board Members were elected by the parishioners of our community during the latter part of 2009 (Appendix D).
The Holy Trinity Restoration Anthony Skedros Multi-Purpose Center Funds were transferred to the Hellenic Community Foundation Fund on or about October of 2009. The transfer was requested by the authorized signatories on the High Tower Portfolio (including the Parish Council President) NOT under the instructions of the Bapis Group.
“Members of the Parish Council discovered the transfer on February 8, 2010 at which time an investigation into the transfer commenced.”
It is unknown to the Bapis Group or High Tower when the Parish Council discovered the October 2009 transfer. It is clear that the transfer was authorized by the three signatories on the portfolio (including the Parish Council President). The Church offices receive monthly statements and annual reports on the Portfolio in question. The Parish Council Executive Committee has the fiduciary responsibility to read those statements in a timely manner. Please note the Parish Council took action on the transfer in question FOUR months after the transfer occurred and statements were sent.
“The Parish Council received no request for a transfer of the Gymnasium Funds to the HCF, did not see the form purporting to authorize the transfer, and did not authorize, approve or ratify the transfer to the HCF.”
The Bapis Group at High Tower followed instructions given to them by the three authorized signatories (including the Parish Council President). High Tower also sent a separate statement to the church office outlining the process for the transfer of funds from the Holy Trinity Restoration Anthony Skedros Multi-Purpose Center to the Hellenic Community Foundation Portfolio.
“The Parish Council has made both informal and formal requests verbally and in writing for the HCF to return the Gymnasium Funds to the Parish. To date the funds have not been returned.”
No one from High Tower or the Bapis Group at High Tower is a member of the Hellenic Community Foundation Board of Directors and therefore cannot act upon the above request because they are not authorized signatories.
“On March 29, 2010, the Parish Council directed that the signers on all Parish accounts at High Tower be changed to the officers of the Parish Council, so as to conform with the UPRs. This directive has been rejected by the Bapis Group.
The Bapis Group has no authority to change signatories on the Holy Trinity Restoration Portfolio, the Hellenic Community Foundation Portfolio, nor other church organizations’ portfolios without the official consent of the authorized signatories. Those authorized signatories did not direct the Bapis Group nor High Tower to conduct that transfer and therefore the above quote misrepresents the transaction.
The Holy Trinity Foundation’s protocol and procedure for protecting the donated funds of both the Restoration and the Foundation have been in full compliance with the Resolutions of the General Assembly.
During the past month, Doug Anderson, Greg Skedros and his legal representative, Manoli Sargetakis and I have met with Parish Council members to resolve the current quagmire. We have met with Phil Floor, George Cayias, Joe Sasich, Jim Mellos, and Chuck Karpakis in attempts to resolve the “Funds” issues amicably. It is surprising then that these Parish Council representatives endorsed the April letter alleging that the Bapis Group and High Tower transferred funds using unauthorized signatories.
Fellow Parishioners, anyone who has enjoyed the use of the Prophet Elias Multipurpose Center and the Restored Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral since 1999 has been the recipient of the thousands of hours of volunteer service and personal money donated from parishioners’ committee work and noble service. Sadly, the Hellenic Community Foundation committee was near completing the plans for the new Holy Trinity Campus to be enjoyed and ready to begin fundraising campaign under the Foundation when members of the Parish Council and the two Proistamenoi obstructed forward-moving efforts to do so and have chosen instead to argue over use of the allocated and designated funds.
I was raised by a hardworking immigrant father and dedicated mother who always taught honesty and filotimo. I have worked since I was 11 years old to assist our family in a way to honor those ideals.
I served as an altar boy at the age of eleven for approximately seven years under the then newly ordained Father Isaiah. Since 1967 when I returned from the military, I have been very active in our community. My family and I worked diligently with other parishioners in this community to help build the Multi-Purpose Center at Prophet Elias. Under my service as Parish Council President, the members of the General Assembly on June 27th, 1999, instructed our progressive parishioners to raise funds to restore the Holy Trinity Cathedral. From that point to the present I have safeguarded the remaining funds from the Restoration Portfolio successfully and completely unscathed in the biggest economic crisis of our lifetime AND at no cost to the donors or the Parishioners.
My family and I have donated a great amount of time and over one million dollars for the Prophet Elias improvements, for the Holy Trinity Restoration, for the Hellenic Community Foundation, for Saint Sophia School, and for many other parish organizations.
Having assisted in all these ways and having accommodated hierarchy since I was an altar boy, I am frankly baffled at the actions of the two Proistamenoi and Parish Council. The Bapis Group at High Tower has diligently followed instructions for fund transfers authorized by proper signatories and will continue to implement the legal transfer of funds as instructed by proper paperwork with authorized signatories.
In my forty-two years of hard work in the financial industry I have never been maliciously attacked and defamed in the manner of the Parish Council’s April 15, 2010 letter to the entire community. The only missing part to their attack was that the letter should have been written on March 15 instead of April 15.
I once heard his Eminence Archbishop Demitrios speak about recognizing the nefarious in life. I wrote that word down then, not knowing that it would have so much meaning to me today.



Nick M. Bapis

Appendix A
Hellenic Heritage Campaign/Holy Trinity Restoration Board
Nick Angelides Dave Katsanevas Con Skedros Nick Bapis
Bill Chaus Victoria Kidman Margo Sotiriou Sam Chelemes
Steven Kogianes Jeanine P. Timothy Nick Colessides Mike Korologos
Dimitri Tsagaris Bill Drossos George Metos Nick Varankis
Perry Drossos George Miller Fr. Michael Kouemetis Julie Fotes
Vasilios Priskos Chris Gamvroulas Manoli Sargetakis
Appendix B
Budget/Economic Sub-Committee
Dimitrios Tsagaris Bill Chaus Nick Varanakis Kosta Katsohirakis Basil Chelemes
Appendix C
Authorized Signatories:
1. Holy Trinity Restoration Funds/Hellenic Heritage Campaign
2. Holy Trinity/Anthony Skedros Multi-purpose Funds
*Nick Varanakis (then President of the Parish) *George Metos *Manoli Sargetakis*(elected by the original Holy Trinity Restoration Committee, authorized at the 1999 General Assembly)
Appendix D
Hellenic Community Foundation Board
Doug Anderson, President
Vasilios Priskos, Vice President
Thomas W. Peters, Secretary
Basil S. Chelemes, Treasurer
Stella Daskalakis
Chris Gamvroulas
Andy Giannis
Kosta Katsohirakis
Damon Kirchmeir
Mike Makris
Maxine Margaritis
John Pappas
William P. Souvall
Tykie Skedros
Dimitrios Tsagaris
VIA Electronic Mail

1 comment:

Steve gamvroulas said...

I don’t think that there is another word that can describe the nonsense emanating from our appointed parish council and their cronies. These unprovoked assaults upon respected and generous members of our community show us exactly how out of touch an appointed and un-elected parish council can be. There is no concern for the community and its members; it is only for the egos of the members of the appointed parish council. Do they see why people don’t trust them to care for the monies involved?
Now we have the appointed parish council firmly seated upon their high horses and wagging their fingers at Mr. Bapis and others for perceived financial discrepancies. They have chosen to attempt to destroy the reputation of good men for nonsensical reasons. They have concocted charges (phantoms) of questionable activities without evidence or even doing their homework to back up their charges. They threaten to take legal action against them and to further alienate and anger the people who love and cherish our church.
Perhaps they are embarrassed that the treasurer does not open the statements or reconcile the books monthly, but rather every four months or so? I think it would be best for the treasurer to submit his resignation immediately.
In 2002, certain members of the current appointed parish council were given independent, verifiable, clear-cut evidence of financial improprieties by an employee of the church. Instead of acting upon the evidence and doing what was difficult but best for the church they instead were ready to ignore UPR’s, canon law, and state law in an attempt to cover it up. They instead attacked me and the others who brought the evidence to light. Those parish council members resigned with several others to “protest” the unfair treatment of the employee. We see how their actions eight years ago have cause so many additional problems to this community. Now we fast forward to 2010 and those same people sign their names to the shameful letter sent to the parish on April 15, 2010. Now they accuse innocent individuals acting in the best interest of the church of questionable actions. Is the word “hypocrite” too harsh? In fact, I have a “gut feeling” one of those previous parish council members penned the flawed and shameful letter from April 15.
The appointed parish council can continue to hide behind their confidentiality agreements and the unpublished, cryptic minutes from their meetings. One day we will be shocked to see what havoc their incompetence has caused. I only hope it won’t be too late.