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CBI offers to take over probe in Osho will fraud case

The court was hearing a petition filed by Yogesh Thakkar, an ardent follower of Osho, complaining of embezzlement of funds by some of the trustees and violations under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) by using a forged will of the spiritual guru.

pune Updated: Nov 29, 2017 14:15 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Central Bureau of Investigation,Osho will fraud case,Osho Rajneesh
Osho Rajneesh.(HT PHOTO)

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that it was ready to take over the probe into the allegations that a few people, who had been close to late Osho Rajneesh, have siphoned off huge sums of money by creating a forged will of the spiritual guru.

Additional solicitor general Anil Singh told the division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi that the central agency was willing to take over the case. “We are ready to take over the investigation, if the court orders to do so,” Singh said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Yogesh Thakkar, an ardent follower of Osho, complaining of embezzlement of funds by some of the trustees and violations under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) by using a forged will of the spiritual guru.

According to him, a document stated to be Osho’s last will and testament surfaced in legal proceedings in Spain, 23 years after his death. A photocopy of that document was subjected to forensic examination and was found to be forged.

On Tuesday, the bench appreciated CBI’s stand saying the matter was required to be investigated by the agency, as “there are international ramifications”. It has, however, decided to wait for the outcome of the letter rogatory sent by the local police to the Spanish court seeking copy of the purportedly forged will.

The decision came after the judges perused a status report in sealed cover submitted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is also conducting parallel investigation into the embezzlement of Osho trust funds.

On August 12, another bench had ordered that the RBI and ED be made respondents in the petition.The petitioner has accused Osho International Foundation (OIF), Switzerland, and trustees Mukesh Sarda, Michael Byrne, John Andrews, D’Arcy Byrne and Klaus Steeg of defrauding the Indian Osho trusts of crores of rupees.

The petitioner has also demanded that a police complaint pending before the economic offences wing (EOW), Mumbai, dated February 9, be registered as an FIR and that the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 be invoked to look into this “multi-million dollar fraud”.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 23:17 IST