Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 2 News List

CIB arrests man claiming to be a living Buddha

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) officials announced yesterday that they have arrested a man who allegedly swindled money from followers in several countries by claiming to be a reincarnation of a holy man.

Interpol’s issuance of a wanted bulletin for Chen Pao-sheng (陳寶生), as well as complaints from groups in China, prompted Taiwan’s judiciary and law enforcement agencies to act.

“We have detained the 63-year-old Chen and his wife on allegations of operating a scam for more than 20 years, and the couple face fraud and money laundering charges,” said Hsu Chao-pin (徐釗斌), deputy chief of the CIB’s Seventh Investigation Brigade.

Setting up his own Tibetan Buddhist sect in 1992, Chen claimed he was hengsheng renpoche (恒生仁波切), a reincarnate of a holy man, as well as a living Buddha, Hsu said.

Together with his wife, Chen headed to China and Southeast Asian countries to conduct religious ceremonies and preach of his great spiritual power, Hsu said, adding that they asked for donations and regular sponsorship from people who became his worshipers.

“Chen was operating a religious scam, in which he had followers in Taiwan, China, Thailand, Myanmar, the US, France and other countries. Most of them were overseas Chinese,” Hsu said. “We estimated that after starting in 1992, Chen made a profit of about NT$240 million [US$7.74 million].”

CIB investigators began to look into the case last year, when a group of 32 Chinese traveled to Taiwan to file a lawsuit against Chen.

The CIB also received a red alert for Chen and his wife. It was filed by Thai police and passed on to Taiwan through Interpol, Hsu said, adding that investigators tracked the couple down and brought them in for questioning this month.

Investigators found that the couple had maintained worship centers in Taipei and Taichung.

The CIB estimated that at their peak the couple had attracted about 10,000 followers from around the world.

Chen asked them for donations to build new worship centers, and also made profited by selling books, health food, and what he claimed were “holy relicts and blessed spiritual items.”

Lawyer Liu Lung-chu (劉龍珠), representing a Chinese-American man Hung Tiesheng (洪鐵生), who used to be a follower, said that Chen had also been indicted by authorities in China.

Liu alleged that Chen coerced many woman into having sex with him, and that some of them had later filed sexual assault charges.

Liu said that Chen had sold medicine to “cure” illnesses, contravening US laws, and that witnesses reported seeing Chen and his wife enjoying big meals of meat and alcohol, which is not considered proper behavior for a Buddhist holy man.

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