Chinese national Charlie Peng, who was booked by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for 'running a money-laundering racket', allegedly bribed some monks of Sera Monastery in Karnataka's Bylakuppe.
Head of the monastery told News18 that of Jamayang Jinpa of Sera Mey Monastery was paid Rs 30 lakh from the account of 'SK Trading'. An investigator said that this account is one of the several shell companies used by Peng to transfer money to monks. The investigating agencies had been probing allegations if Peng was "bribing" some Tibetans living in Delhi.
News18 had earlier reported that the 42-year-old Chinese national had been bribing some 'lamas' (Buddhist spiritual monk) all over India, including Delhi's Majnu ka Tila to gather information on Dalai Lama and his associate. Investigators said that it was done to buy support for a Chinese man to succeed Dalai Lama.
The investigator further told News18 that another monk, Thupten Chodak, from the same Karnataka monastery was allegedly paid Rs 15 lakh, while Phuntsok Dhargyal, Ngawang Losel and Tashi Choepel were giveb Rs 10 lakh each, Thupten Wangchuk was paid Rs 8 lakh and Lobsang Choeden was given Rs 7 lakh.
The same company allegedly paid Drepung Loseling in Karnataka's Mundgod Rs 10 lakh and Sonam Dorjee Rs 7 lakh. An undisclosed amount was also paid to Lobsang Dorjee Drepung Loseling in Mundgod. In Navi Mumbai, a monk named Pan Mingming was given Rs 10 lakh from SK Trading account.
Bylakuppe in Mysore district, borders Kodagu and is about 200kms from Bengaluru. It has the largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet after Dharamshala.
Six of the ten monks, who are accused of being bribed by Charlie Peng, live at the Sera monasteries. Due to the the coronavirus pandemic, the camps, temples and monasteries are closed to outsiders.
When News18 reached Sera, the monks named were unavailable. But at least two of them are said to have confided in Khonpon Tashi Tsering, one of the two abbots or heads of the Sera monasteries about the transactions.
"Some of the monks got money from the man who was arrested in Delhi. But these monks say that was money from family and friends, they come here to study. They have some occasions like graduation. So the money was sent by family. It's not so easy to send from Tibet to people who live in India because Chinese government doesn't allow. I am not saying that's the fact. That's their interpretation. I asked them why wasn't western union money transfer used. But they aren't allowed to use it. They have to find another channel to get money here. Some amount is relatively huge but some events cost money like graduation where you have to host 5,000 people. I just want to leave it to the investigation agencies," said Tashi.
"I talked to two monks. They have never met this man (Charlie Peng). They just used him as someone to transfer money. Apart from them, they don't know who this man is at all," he added.
While no internal investigation is launched by the monastery into these allegations, Tashi said they are waiting for the investigation by the Indian government to reach a logical conclusion and that the monastery would not stand by the monks if they were found to have done wrong.
In Mumbai, while most of the numbers were switched off, News18 managed to speak to one monk named Thupten Wangchuk of Sera Mey Monastery who evaded questions citing language as a barrier when confronted about his connection to SK Trading company and being benefactor of lakhs of rupees to his account. "Sorry, humko hindi malum nahi (sorry, I don't understand Hindi)" was his standard answer when asked anything about Charlie Peng or the money sent.
Officials said at least 30 monks have been questioned by Karnataka and Delhi police in September to expose the truth.