Colorado AG: Investigate the Financial Activities of the Shambhala Nonprofit Organizations
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Shambhala, A Non-Profit Organization in Crisis: The Shambhala community is a religious nonprofit organization with meditation centers in many major American cities. In June 2018, the spiritual leader of the group, the Sakyong Mipham, was credibly accused by multiple persons of sexual assault, often provoked by extreme alcohol abuse. The Sakyong published a letter that neither admitted nor denied the accusations of sexual assault, "stepped back" from his teaching activity, and left the United States. Although he promised to be open, accept criticism for his past errors that had "caused harm" to others, he has remained entirely incommunicado for the past year. Although the Sakyong's own conduct gave rise to the the allegations against him, the Shambhala organization has paid no less than $100,000 to investigators to scrutinize the allegations of his accusers, while the Sakyong has refused to give a single interview to these investigators, interposing his attorney to present formalistic denials on his behalf. Currently, a large number of Shambhala members believe many of the allegations to be true.
Shambhala Is Under the the Sakyong's Sole Control: The Sakyong always has, and continues to exercise total authority over all real estate and other properties that have been accumulated through the efforts of Shambhala students during the past forty years. The Boards of Directors through which he acts are entirely subservient to his will, and that of Shambhala's attorney, Alexander Halpern, who designed and administers the entire Shambhala complex of Shambhala companies, including Shambhala USA, the Sakyong Potrang, Shambhala Mountain Center, the Nalanda Foundation, Front Range Shambhala, and Shambhala Mountain Online, LLC.
The Interim Board Is Evicting Shambhala Students from Their Home to Pay Off "Loans" From One Shambhala Entity to Another, While the Sakyong Enjoys Substantial Wealth: Currently, the Shambhala Interim Board of Directors, who have all sworn a Loyalty Oath to "uphold the Sakyong's world," are engaging in transfers of assets in order to "pay off loans" allegedly made by the Sakyong Potrang (one Shambhala organization) to Shambhala USA (another Shambhala organization), including the sale of historic Marpa House in Boulder, that 40 Shambhala practitioners have called home for many years. Meanwhile, the Sakyong continues to hold title in his own name to large residences and real properties valued in the millions of dollars, i.e., the "Kalapa Court" in Colorado, Vermont, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Shambhala organization pays the upkeep on these residences, that runs into hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
The Interim Board is Providing No Transparency In Financial Disclosures: The financial reporting that the Interim Board of Directors has been providing to Shambhala members is very vague, and provides no clear information regarding why intra-Shambhala loans such as that from the Sakyong Potrang to Shambhala USA must be paid with such imminence that Shambhala students must be evicted from their home. Nor do the financial reports detail the amounts of any of the past payments to the Sakyong for salaries, honoraria, or other compensation, nor do they disclose the amounts of any fund transfers currently being made for his maintenance.
The Interim Board is Acting for the Benefit of the Sakyong, Not Shambhala: The Interim Board has failed to demonstrate any independence or interest for the longterm welfare of the community of students. The Shambhala organization was shocked earlier this year, when a longtime Shambhala member was believed to have killed himself by setting fire to his automobile shortly after speaking out about the sexual abuse charges rocking the organization. That shock was followed by further shock resulting from the arrests of two longtime Shambhala members in Colorado on charges of child sex abuse. The Interim Board spoke on each of these events only after the matter had been disclosed in the press, and issued several non-credible denials of organizational knowledge of the underlying events. The Interim Board commissioned two reports from outside entities (the Wickwire-Holm lawfirm and An Olive Branch) about the Sakyong's misconduct and the culture of sexual abuse inside Shambhala, but has followed up on none of their recommendations. The Interim Board is clearly acting only on behalf of the Sakyong, as a personal individual, and is not acting in the best interests of the Shambhala Community.
The Shambhala Assets Are At Grave Risk of Being Converted to the Sakyong's Private Benefit: The Shambhala organizations hold millions of dollars in real estate in the State of Colorado that is not paying taxes. The Shambhala organizations reap millions of dollars in donations each year based on the representation that they are religious nonprofits. The Shambhala organizations enjoy exemptions from various types of wage and hour regulations that allow them to employ Shambhala students at low or no wages to produce products and events that are sold to the public. Currently, it appears that all of the labors of two generations of Shambhala students have been accumulated for the sole purpose of benefiting the Sakyong and his family. Unless the Colorado Attorney General exercises oversight, the assets painfully garnered for public benefit, to which Colorado and US taxpayers contributed by means of tax exemptions, may be entirely devoted to the private profit of the Sakyong.
Shambhala Members and the Interested Public Request the Colorado Attorney General to Investigate: Accordingly, the undersigned respectfully request the Attorney General of the State of Colorado, Phil Weiser, to initiate an investigation into the financial practices of the Shambhala organization, and in particular, the activities of the following Colorado business organizations: Shambhala USA, the Sakyong Potrang, Shambhala Mountain Center, the Nalanda Foundation, Front Range Shambhala, and Shambhala Mountain Online, LLC.
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