DHARAMSALA, Nov 25: Much to the relief of Tibetans and Buddhist followers, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee has been given clean chit by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a forex violations case involving the Tibetan Buddhist leader and his associates that raised much brouhaha almost four years ago.
ED, which took over the case after Himachal Pradesh police intercepted a vehicle in January, 2011 and seized suspected cash from the Karmapa’s associates and later from his monastery, has dropped all charges against the Tibetan religious leader as its investigation into the matter revealed that the Karmapa had no control over donations received by the trust from global devotees.
“The forex seized was donations received from followers. The Karmapa has been cleared of charges, as investigations reveal that he had no control over donations received by the trust,” The Indian Express quoted an ED source as saying.
However, the agency held the Karmapa’s Director of Finance, Thupten Sherab guilty under Section 4 of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for holding foreign exchange without legal authorisation and the seized forex amounting to over Rs 5.97 crore has been confiscated.
“At the time of seizure, they did not have permission from the RBI for holding the forex. They have since applied for requisite permissions for receiving foreign donations… and have been granted approval. The Karmapa’s associates in charge of the trust’s finance department have, therefore, been held guilty… The amount belongs to the government and has been confiscated,” The Indian Express quoted the same ED source as saying.
On January 26, 2011, police seized Rs 1 crore from an SUV at Una in Himachal Pradesh. Probe revealed that the money was for a land deal between Dharamsala-based businessman K P Bharadwaj and and Karma Garchen Trust, run under the Karmapa. Two days later, police searched the Karmapa’s Gyuto monastery on the outskirts of Dharamsala and recovered Rs 5.97 crore in currencies of 26 countries.
The Himachal Pradesh police had dropped the Tibetan spiritual leader’s name from the charge sheet in this case in 2012.