2011 Himachal currency haul: ED gives clean chit to Karmapa

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.

PTI| Updated: Nov 23, 2014, 11:39 AM IST

New Delhi: 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, ordered confiscation 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.