Lama’s aide faces bribery claim

Sunday Star-Times - - World -

For more than 15 years, Ten­zin Dhon­den has stood be­tween the Dalai Lama and the mul­ti­tudes of Amer­i­can phi­lan­thropists, celebri­ties, schol­ars and of­fi­cials ea­ger for even an in­stant in the revered Bud­dhist leader’s pres­ence. The smil­ing Ti­betan monk, widely known as Lama Ten­zin, has in­tro­duced him­self as the Dalai Lama’s ‘‘per­sonal emis­sary for peace’’.

Now he has been sus­pended as sec­re­tary and trustee of the Dalai Lama Trust, a char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion chaired by the Dalai Lama, pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions by a prom­i­nent Seat­tle­based tech­nol­ogy en­tre­pre­neur who claims that be­tween 2005 and 2008, the monk abused his role to ex­tract un­jus­ti­fied pay­ments from him.

The Dalai Lama is said to have ex­pressed ‘‘deep dis­ap­point­ment and con­cern’’ over the com­plaints about his gate­keeper, which in­clude an al­le­ga­tion that he de­manded pay­ments in re­turn for en­sur­ing the spir­i­tual leader ap­peared at a ma­jor event in Washington state.

Dhon­den strongly dis­putes the al­le­ga­tions, and has con­tracted Pat­ter­son Belk­nap, a ma­jor New York City law firm, to de­fend him. Those lawyers are locked in a bat­tle with Daniel Kran­zler, the Seat­tle busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist who claims that for sev­eral years he felt pres­sured into mak­ing pay­ments to the monk, in­clud­ing some he al­leges were made in cash to avoid leav­ing a trace.

Kran­zler first re­layed his con­cerns to the Dalai Lama dur­ing a face-to-face meet­ing ear­lier this year, ac­cord­ing to two other peo­ple present at the meet­ing. He has also laid out his ac­cu­sa­tions to the Dalai Lama in two let­ters, both of which have been seen by The Guardian.

Dhon­den’s star has been on the rise since 1991, when he ar­rived in the United States and taught med­i­ta­tion and coun­selled ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients. In 2000, he founded a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion called Friends of the Dalai Lama , based in La Jolla, Cal­i­for­nia, near San Diego, which he still con­trols.

Over time, Dhon­den be­came the Dalai Lama’s de facto emis­sary, a po­si­tion that led to fre­quent con­tact with some of the Bud­dhist leader’s many rich and well-con­nected sup­port­ers. Many re­lied on him for ac­cess to the Dalai Lama.


Ten­zin Dhon­den, the Dalai Lama’s de facto emis­sary, has been ac­cused of cor­rup­tion.

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