Countering claims by President of Central Tibetan Administration Lobsang Sangay that 1.5 million dollars taken from The Tibet Fund to purchase the Office of Tibet in Washington DC was a grant but not a loan, The Tibet Fund stated the amount was a loan.
A press release issued by The Tibet Fund in New York on Thursday said that the amount was a loan, but both the Board of The Tibet Fund and the CTA hoped and expected that at some point the loan would be forgiven and the full amount would then be deemed a grant.
The 1.5 million dollars became a controversy after the Tibetan Cabinet mentioned the issue as one of the reasons to terminate former North America Representative Penpa Tsering at the end of November.
In the Cabinet’s ten-point statment of reasons to terminate Penpa Tsering, point eight was related to the 1.5 million dollar and said that it had been “clearly explained” by Lobsang Sangay to Penpa Tsering that the amount was not a loan, but an amount that The Tibet Fund had contributed and did not expect to be paid back.
Penpa Tsering has been charged for reporting to the auditors of CTA that a loan payment for the OoT DC office was outstanding, without consulting and seeking guidance and approval from the Cabinet and DIIR (Department of Information and International Relations).
The Cabinet has said that all the funds received and spent towards the purchase of the Office of Tibet building in Washington, DC, are clearly documented, audited, and fully accounted for.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Penpa Tsering denied asking the auditors to mention the issue in their report or trying to make that an issue, but rather had sought the auditor’s guidance to find a solution for the issue so that there may not arise any problem in the future.
The press release, signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Tibet Fund Michael Lemle, clarified that: “The Tibet Fund entered into a $1,500,000 loan agreement with the Office of Tibet on 31 March 2014 to facilitate the CTA’s purchase of a building in Washington DC. The loan is scheduled to be repaid in thirty years.”
“All of the terms concerning the loan were agreed and confirmed in written documents consistent with customary legal practice in New York. At the request of the Office of Tibet, the loan was made to the Tibetan Community Development Fund Inc.”
The Chairman had written to the CTA on 6 July 2017 that at the time the loan was made, both parties expected that at some time in the future the loan would be considered a grant.
The Tibet Fund would then consider forgiving the loan if the terms of the loan were honoured by CTA, and if the CTA and The Tibet Fund relationship remained mutually supportive.