Karmapa cash row: Tug of war over seized currency

Last Updated: Sunday, April 24, 2011 - 18:45

Dharamsala: A tug of war is on between two security agencies over the possession of seized foreign and Indian currency worth Rs.70 million from the monastery of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

The state police and the central government`s Enforcement Directorate (ED) are independently investigating the case to get to the bottom of the recovery of unaccounted currency.

Police Jan 28 recovered the currency of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs.5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Karmapa`s Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery, on the outskirts of this town, from where the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama heads his government-in-exile.

The ED is now trying to lay its hands on the currency that is in the possession of the state police.

It had moved a court in Una town, where the case of recovery of unaccounted currency was registered, to get the money.

The court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) March 31 directed the police to hand over the currency to the ED.

But the police have moved the sessions court against the CJM`s decision.
"We have moved the sessions court for revision of lower court`s order," Inspector General of Police P.L. Thakur said.

He said since the state police have been investigating the case, it`s their case property.

"We are still investigating the case. So the currency should be kept in our possession only," he said, adding the matter would be soon listed for hearing.

On the other hand, the ED is claiming that since the case is related to the possession of foreign currency by the monastery, the investigation comes under its purview only.

"We are sole custodian of the seized currency as the case is under the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act (FEMA) investigation," an ED official said, requesting anonymity.
Last month, officials also deposited $150,000 with the ED`s Chandigarh office.

The amount, a monastery spokesperson has said "represented cash that was reported to the authorities in 2003. Submitting it to the ED was only part of our process of ensuring that the Karmapa Office of administration is in full compliance".

The spokesperson in a written statement added: "We continue to cooperate fully with the ED and other investigating agencies."

It was after the seizure of Rs.1 crore meant for land purchase that the police Jan 28 searched at the monastery and recovered the currency of 26 countries.

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.


First Published: Sunday, April 24, 2011 - 18:45

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