Karmapa cash row: ED begins probe | india | Hindustan Times
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Karmapa cash row: ED begins probe

india Updated: Feb 01, 2011 15:45 IST
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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday reached Tibetan leader Karmapa Lama's place of residence the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery near Dharamsala to begin their investigation into last week's recovery of unaccounted foreign and Indian currency worth nearly Rs 70 million.

"They are investigating the sources of the money, what purpose it was meant for, why it was unaccounted and why the Indian government was not informed about the foreign currency," an investigating official told IANS.

The ED team may question the Karmapa too, the official added.

A Himachal Pradesh Police team, led by Una's Additional Superintendent of Police K.G. Kapoor, has already questioned the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, about the currency recovery. He was quizzed Jan 28 as well.

Soon after the Karmapa was questioned by the police, a spokesperson for the Tibetan leader denied allegations against him, stressing that he was not a Chinese agent.

"The Karmapa has not done anything wrong to undermine and harm the interests of India," spokesperson Karma Topden told reporters.

"The Karmapa has got offerings from all over the world. The cash was donated money. There is no 'hawala' link to money," he said.

A string of central government agencies are attempting to get to the bottom of the recovery of unaccounted currency. The most baffling part of the total seizure from the monastery was the 1.1 million Chinese Yuan (Rs 7 million) and over $600,000.

The presence of Chinese Yuan brought to the fore the Karmapa's alleged links to China. He had arrived mysteriously from his monastery near Lhasa in Tibet region in January 2000.

Senior police officers said that the Chinese Yuan was "neatly packed in bundles" and did not seem like money offered by visiting devotees.

Possession of so much foreign currency could put the Karmapa, who is a refugee in India, and his aides in trouble under the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act (FEMA).

"The foreign currencies are from 25 different countries and include large amounts of US dollars, Chinese Yuan, Hong Kong dollars, Taiwanese and other currencies," Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police D S Manhas said.

Police believe that the money was meant for some "illegal" land deal in Dharamsala in Kangra district with the involvement of Karmapa's aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama. He is now in police custody and is being interrogated.

Five people have been arrested so far in the case.

The Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.