2011 Himachal currency haul: ED gives clean chit to Karmapa | punjab | Hindustan Times
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2011 Himachal currency haul: ED gives clean chit to Karmapa

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2014 20:34 IST
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ED has given a clean chit and dropped charges of forex violations against Tibetan religious leader Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, four years after the Karmapa and his associates were charged with keeping illegal foreign and domestic currency worth about Rs 6 crore.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) has, however, orderedconfiscation of the foreign currency haul which totals at over Rs 5.97 crore and includes a horde of foreign currency.

The agency had taken over the case a few months after Himachal Pradesh Police intercepted a vehicle in January, 2011, and seized suspected cash from the Karmapa's associates and later from his monastery.

ED, which has been probing the currency haul under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), based its findings on the investigation that the Karmapa and two of the trusts that were under scanner for suspected Hawala transactions have "no role in the collection or management of donations" from global devotees, including the seized currency.

The state police had dropped the name of the spiritual leader from its chargesheet in this case in 2012.

A latest order by ED's Adjudicating Authority (a special director-rank officer of the agency) in the case, which was accessed by PTI, relied upon the Karmapa's statement made to it that "he has never been involved in any day-to-day transactions and working of the office... that he is an incarnated monk and has inherited the title (Gyalwang Karmapa) and the property of the 16th Karmapa".

He also told ED that he "does not open or handle any of the gifts/offerings and the same is managed by the Tsurphu Labrang (administrative office)".

His associates in the Gyuto monastery in Himachal Pradesh, who were co-accused in the case, recorded similar statements with the agency saying the Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage and "offerings are never touched by his Holiness and they are immediately taken charge of by the Labrang".

The Karmapas's director (Finance), who kept records for the said cash, Thupten Sherab, has, however, been held guilty under Section 4 of FEMA (holding of foreign exchange) and all the cash has been seized.

But in the absence of any criminal intent on part of Sherab, ED has not imposed any penalty in the case but has charged him for "holding seized foreign exchange without any legal authorisation" and permission of RBI.

ED sleuths, the order said, found that the concept of Labrang is unique to Tibetan Buddhism and, hence, the Karmapa was not in the know about offerings made to him by devotees from the world over.

"It (Labrang) is an administrative office which is attached to exalted reincarnate Lamas and continues in perpetuity. The main function of the Labrang attached to any spiritual guru is to insulate the Guru from all the worldly affairs and, therefore, takes charge of all worldly functions of running the monastery like non-spiritual, financial, administrative affairs, etc.," the probe report said.

According to ED foreign currency, which was seized during the same case is, "Nepali Rs 421892, DM 3700, Myanmarese currency 21,000, Pygane 660, Taiwanese currency 742900, Bhutanese currency 15458, Cambodian currency 33000, Indonesian Rupiah 1631600, Vietnamese currency 810000 and Hungarian Forint 500".

Himachal police, in 2011, had recovered currencies of 26 countries, including 1,20,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs 5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery located on the outskirts of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The raids were made following seizure of Rs 1 crore from a jeep by Una Police on the interstate border and during investigations it was revealed that the money was meant for purchase of land for the Karmapa Trust.