Ontario Catholic priest allegedly gambled away $500K meant to help refugees

The Daily Buzz

[Father Amer Saka/Facebook/St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church]

A priest working at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ont., has reportedly lost money slated for refugee sponsorship to gambling.

Father Amer Saka is now under investigation after church officials reported more than $500,000 in funds intended to help refugees settling in Canada has vanished, Toronto Star reports.

“We believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose,” Chaldean Catholic Church bishop, Emanuel Shaleta old the Star. “Since there is an investigation going on, we cannot confirm what he’s saying.”

After suspending Saka, the bishop drove him to a voluntary treatment facility at Southdown Institute for priests who are fighting addiction problems as well as depression and sexual disorders, the Star reports.

Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, which runs the sponsorship program, said Saka privately sponsored Iraqi refugees and has been part of the program for about eight or nine years, the Hamilton Spectator reports.

The Hamilton Diocese is planning to take over the refugees sponsored by Saka since he is no longer financially able to support them.

“Word is out in the Chaldean community,“ Kroetsch told the Spec. "We wanted to reassure these refugees we are going to look after them. We are in the process of contacting them.”

On Feb. 24, London police have received a complaint of alleged financial misappropriation in connection with the Chaldean Catholic Church and are investigating. No charges have been laid since, the Star reports.