Yoga school to be wound up

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Traquility lost: The Ashram in Tower Rd, Mt Eliza, may come under scrutiny as liquidators dismantle the financial affairs of Shiva Yoga Inc. The ashram is owned by the organisations former leader, Swami Sankarananda.

THE final winding up of the financial affairs of the organisation behind the Shiva School of Meditation and Yoga, Mt Eliza, could depend on “litigation flowing” from allegations against its former spiritual leader, Russell Kruckman, also known as Swami Shankarananda and Swamiji.

Paul Burness and Con Kokkinos of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants were last week appointed voluntary liquidators of the troubled Shiva Yoga Inc.

Mr Burness on Saturday said the timing of the winding up of the organisation would be determined by the “litigation flowing” and contingent liabilities.

Once finalised, the liquidation will see the end of an organisation that has been a significant part of the Mt Eliza community for the past 25 years.

As well as running a cafe in the village its Saturday night gatherings, or satsangs, were regularly attended by more than 350 people, including residents of the ashram.

The decision to wind up the organisation behind the ashram at 27 Tower Rd follows last December’s announcement by the school that Mr Kruckman “has had secret sexual relations with a number of women from the ashram community” and that police are investigating allegations of sexual assault and a class action announced by St Kilda lawyer Angela Sdrinis.

Mr Burness said Shiva Yoga owned three properties near the ashram, two in Petrel Ave and one in Clendon Close.

They are collectively valued at just under $3 million, although one has a mortgage.

The most valuable property connected to the yoga school, the ashram in Tower Rd, is owned by Swami Shankarananda and is not subject to the liquidation.

Financial statements of the tax-exempt Shiva Yoga Inc for the year ended June 2014 show $1.38m has been spent improving the ashram building and lists Swami Shankarananda as having loaned the organisation $373,508.

The statements show “retained earnings” of $2.9m.

Mr Burness said Swami Shankarananda had placed caveats dated 22 April 2015 on the titles on one of Shiva Yoga’ Petrel Ave properties in and the one in Clarendon Close.

A further caveat had been lodged on the title of the Tower Rd property by Shiva Meditation Inc in 2005.

Mr Burness said his appointment by members of Shiva Yoga was preceded by a Declaration of Solvency lodged with Consumer Affairs Victoria outlining that the association was in a position to pay all creditors in full within 12 months of the winding up.

“There was no doubt that it was a very difficult decision to make for the members and that they had been proactive in putting the organisation into the hands of independent party, so as to maximise any surplus assets being available from the association,” Mr Burness said in a news release dated Thursday 23 April.

“I am cognisant of the allegations against the ashram and would be dealing with all potential claims as part of the liquidation process.”

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