Karmapa's office hands over $150,000 to ED



Dharamsala: Over a month after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out raids at the monastery where the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is residing and recovered huge amounts of unaccounted cash, monastery officials have deposited USD 150,000 with the agency, an official said on Saturday.

Officials of the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery handed over the money to the ED on Thursday.

Confirming this to a news agency, a spokesperson for the Karmapa said: "This represents cash that was reported to the authorities in 2003. Submitting it to the ED Thursday was simply 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."

However, the Karmapa's office refused to divulge the details about the amount.

An official in the ED's Chandigarh office said USD 150,000 in US currency was deposited. "Two monastery accountants were summoned for questioning. They surrendered US currency," he said.

The official said the Karmapa's aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama, and two other Tibetans, who got bail from a court, would appear in the ED office on Monday.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court March 16 granted bail to Shakti Lama and a couple - Karma Thapa and his wife Rinzin, to join the investigation and appear at the ED office in Chandigarh.

It was after the seizure of Rs 1 crore meant for land purchase that the police Jan 28 conducted searches at the monastery and recovered currency of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs 5.3 million in Indian currency.

Subsequently, police arrested Shakti Lama, the accountant in the monastery, on suspicion that he was involved in some "illegal" land deal for the monastery.

Later, police arrested the couple in New Delhi in connection with the seizure of Rs 1 crore from two people that was meant as part-payment by the Karmapa's trust to buy land.

The Karmapa's office has been saying that all the money recovered from the monastery was donations from followers, including scores who come from Tibet and carry Chinese currency.

A team of the ED officials from Chandigarh, headed by Deputy Director V Neeraja, reached the monastery Feb 1 and scanned the account books, ledgers and documents pertaining to financial transactions.

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.

The Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

IANS