Currency row: Karmapa office assures cooperation

IANS, December 9, 2011

Dharamsala, India -- Two days after police included the name of Tibetan religious head and 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje in a chargesheet on the seizure this year of huge unaccounted foreign currency from the monastery where he is residing, his office here on Friday assured the investigating agencies of full cooperation.

"The Karmapa office of administration has provided the authorities with complete details and documents pertaining to the case. We will offer our full cooperation and assistance in future too," Karmapa's spokesperson Karma Chungyalpa told a news agency.

He said "at no point of time the Karmapa was ever called or examined by the investigating agency. His Holiness has no involvement, direct or indirect, in the financial administration of the office or trust".

The Himachal Pradesh Police Wednesday included the Karmapa's name in a chargesheet filed by it in a court in Una town on the seizure of foreign currency worth Rs 70 million (over USD 1 million) from the Karmapa's Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery on the outskirts of this town, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Investigating officer RR Thakur told a news agency that the Karmapa has been charged under Section 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code, a charge related to conspiracy, over seizure of unaccounted money from the monastery.

He is the 10th accused named in the chargesheet, filed before Una Chief Judicial Magistrate Rajesh Tomar.

"Since the Karmapa was heading the Karmae Garchen Trust (of the monastery), all financial transactions being carried out by the trust were in his knowledge," Thakur added.

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

Meanwhile, state police have again decided to seek permission from the central government for registering a case against the accused under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

"We will soon move a request to the central government to allow us to register a case against the monastery functionaries, including the Karmapa, under FCRA as a huge amount of foreign currency was seized from it," Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) SR Mardi said in Shimla.

The 26-year-old Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He joined the Dalai Lama in exile in 2000, and is widely seen as his religious successor.

Police Jan 28 recovered the currencies 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 Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

It was after the seizure of Rs 1 crore meant for land purchase that police conducted searches at the monastery and recovered the currency.

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