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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

ED attaches illegally acquired properties of high-ranking Tibetian monk

Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 12, 2012
First Published: 18:09 IST(12/12/2012) | Last Updated: 22:32 IST(12/12/2012)

The enforcement directorate (ED) has attached three properties that allegedly belonged to a high-ranking Tibetan monk, who had come under the scanner of security agencies, after the arrest of eight Taiwanese nationals in Himachal Pradesh.

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“Three properties – two in the Greater Kailash area and one in Chitranjan Park – that have been allegedly acquired by Karma Lobsang Bhutia, who is also known as 10th Bo Gankar Rinpoche of Karma Kagyu sect, have been attached provisionally under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The registered value of these properties is around Rs. 2 crore, but the market value is much higher than that,” said a finance ministry official.

Karma Lobsang Bhutia had come under the scanner of investigators in June this year after eight Taiwanese nationals were arrested from his monastery at Jogindernagar in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. They were initially suspected to be Chinese spies, but later the police found that all of them were Taiwan. They were illegally staying in India and working in the monastery. The police also recovered Rs. 30 lakh in cash and some foreign currency in the operation.

Due to recovery of the foreign currency the ED was pitched in to probe the matter under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). But the ED investigators found that two years ago Karma Lobsang was arrested at the IGI airport here with two Nepali and two Indian passports. After the revelation, the ED initiated a probe under the PMLA also. The PMLA probe resulted in attachment of three benami properties. The PMLA authority will have to affirm the order of the ED.

According to sources, Karma Lobsang is considered close to 17th Karmapa Ogyan Trinley Dorje who had been chargesheeted in a case of recovery of foreign currency worth Rs. 6.5 crore in 2011, but later the charges were dropped.

“The government needs to have a uniform policy to govern Tibetan refuges here as far the issue of acquiring properties and earning their livelihood is concerned,” said Jaidev Ranade, a China expert and former additional secretary in the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

According to the sources, these Tibetan monks get donations in foreign currencies and acquire benami properties as they are not allowed to have properties in their own names.

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