Arts & Culture Philosophy & Religion

Questions Raised on Dalai Lama Charitable Trust

By Indy Hack

Throughout his time in exile the Indian Government has allowed the Dalai Lama to live tax-free and turned a blind eye to his audacious international tax avoidance scheme. Many of the profits from his overseas tours are funneled back to India into a fund called, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama Charitable Trust”, and people are told that profits from his events are used for charitable purposes that the Dalai Lama deems appropriate. However  many believe  that this is not a charitable trust, but opine that is instead the Dalai Lama’s  own private trust fund, that according to at least one trustee he treats as “his personal bank account”.
Although its name  implies that it is  a charitable trust, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama Charitable Trust”, was registered under the Indian Trusts Act in Calcutta in 1964,which could allow a private trust to manage the Dalai Lama’s personal investments, not as a charitable trust. In its opinion Allied Legal, believes that “Despite  popular belief a Charitable Trust will be registered under the Indian Registration Act not under the Indian Trusts Act.”
  Being a charitable trust allows for millions of dollars of tax avoidance preventing any levy for his public appearances being paid to the host the nation.  Furthermore the trust fund is also believed to pay for the Dalai Lama’s own activities and entertainment. Whilst it does make many charitable donations the Dahli Lama seems to also use this fund to indulge his lavish lifestyle such as his 15 Rolex watches, his pastry chef, and his entourage of servants.
Since this mechanism was first discovered the Dalai Lama published a website claiming the trust, “was established…as an irrevocable public trust”, which is untrue. According to R&A Associates, a specialist Indian law firm, “The provisions of the Indian Trusts Act do not apply to Public Trusts”. As the fund was established under the Indian Trusts Act it was created as a private trust, not a public one.
The Dalai Lama also started to publish limited financial records of its activities. However these records don’t reveal the amounts that are used for the Dalai Lama’s own personal activities, they only cover 4 years of expenditures, and are highly condensed.
From the limited records released it’s impossible for the public to tell exactly what the money is being spent on, or to what degree the Dalai Lama personally benefits from the fund. In addition, all of the funds trustees are close subordinates to the Dalai Lama and they follow his exact instructions on how the money is used.
One current trustee of “His Holiness the Dalai Lama Charitable Trust” admitted privately that the Dalai Lama uses the fund as “his personal bank account”. They explained that in Tibet there was a government treasury that belonged to the Dalai Lama and that he sees this as “the same thing”.
They admitted it was common knowledge among all the trustees that after each event overseas the Dalai Lama would be “paid his share of the profits” through the trust. They also stated the Dalai Lama would often demand “a minimum donation” before he would agree to a visit.
The key difference between whether a fund is private or charitable lies in where the money goes. A charitable trust can only use its funds to fulfill its defined charitable aims. Although it can reimburse people who work for it, it cannot use its assets to fund someone’s personal lifestyle. Since “His Holiness the Dalai Lama Charitable Trust” uses some of its funds to pay for the Dalai Lama’s personal living expenses it functions as a private fund. The fact that all of its trustees are under the direct control of the Dalai Lama also raises doubts over its authenticity.

About the author

Artvoice

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

11 Comments

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  • It’s interesting how people are quick to dismiss any criticism of the Dalai Lama, despite having no evidence for doing so. I think it’s the power of celebrity, the same power than enabled Jimmy Savile to commit crimes for years without being caught. If a person is very prominent in the public eye and seems to be doing good works, they get a good-will ‘free pass’ that may not be justified. There is a lot of deception and fake news in this world so it is important to examine the evidence rather than to dismiss claims of misconduct out of hand just because someone has a lot of positive PR.

  • This is fascinating, I read the article and was quite taken aback by it’s sheer level of crazy. I had a look at the author’s website and wow… a whole boat load of crazy. Ya’ll be coming up with demented conspiracies. Autistic as hell!

  • Indy Hack, the aptly named, i thought I’d met the whole household of ‘servants’ (delightful monks enjoying the honor of serving their beloved leader) but I’d like an introduction to the Dalai Lama’s ethereal pastry chef ! 15 Rolexes ! You remind me of old Murdoch who complained about the Dalai Lama’s non-existent Gucci shoes …
    Seriously now, what are you out to get ? These articles are getting more strident and far-fetched and any initial credibility is long gone.
    Mr. Parlato is clearly (still) gunning for Raniere, but what skin do you have in this game ? Are you NKT ?
    I miss the old Artvoice, it was a restful read.

  • I hesitate to put yet another comment on this article. Almost every day there is a article in Artvoice that ressembles more to a smear campaign against the Dalai Lama than a real piece of news! Either the author is ill motivated or totally ignorant! Artvoice would do well to check their journalists if they don’t want to be totally discredited!
    A total shame.

  • James,

    The organisation you worked for is entirely different to the Dalai Lama’s trust in India. It has different offices, different staff, and completely different oversight.

    Are you claiming to have more intimate knowledge of the finances of His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s Charitable Trust than the trustees themselves? Given that you have no access to its financial records I am skeptical of your claims.

    Why would trustees lie about the Dalai Lama’s use of the funds?

    You can claim whatever you like about my motivation for writing this article, I’m just interested what facts you are using to claim that the trustees themselves are lying to me?

    Do you ave any facts or is it just your supposition?

    Thanks,

    Indy

  • Having been Chairman if the Dalai Lama Foundation for a number of years and having intimate knowledge of the “Trust” and the Dalai Lama, the vast majority of what is mentioned in this article is not factually correct and the majority complete lies. While their have been individuals involved with the “Trust” whose actions have been questioned, there is no evidence whatsoever to implicate the Dalai Lama in unethical or seemly conduct. Clearly the author has a grudge against the Dalai Lama or has accepted hearsay as fact.