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Indian Police Charge Tibetan Buddhist Leader in Currency Probe

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Indian authorities have charged Tibetan Buddhism’s third-most important spiritual leader for offenses linked to the January recovery of more than $1 million in foreign currency from his monastery headquarters.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, is accused with nine others of possessing 60 million rupees ($1.1 million) in banknotes issued by 26 countries in contravention of foreign currency rules, Sumedha Dwivedi, superintendent of police in Una, a town in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh where the charges were introduced in a court, said by phone.

The Karmapa’s office said at that time that the money was donated by followers to fund its programs. “All our dealings across the world are honest and completely transparent -- anything else would be contrary to the Buddhist principals that we live by,” it said in Jan. 29 statement.

“We have found evidence following investigations,” said Dwivedi, adding police may seek further charges. The court will now consider the evidence and decide whether there will be a trial, she said.

The Karmapa, 26, has been living near Dharamshala, the Indian headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, since his arrival from Tibet in 2000. He is seen as a possible candidate to succeed the Dalai Lama as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hari Govind at hgovind@bloomberg.net

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