Sunday, January 28, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Northwest Briefly

Investigators Wonder About Guru's Riches

Times Staff: Times News Services


The death of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh has federal investigators wondering what happened to the Indian guru's riches, or whether the jewels and millions of dollars reportedly stashed in Swiss bank accounts ever existed at all.

The central Oregon commune of Rajneeshpuram - once home to 4,000 of the guru's red-clad followers - was disbanded in 1985, when Rajneesh was deported for immigration fraud.

At least 42 of his disciples were charged with criminal activities ranging from wiretapping and attempted murder to the deliberate poisoning of 750 people in The Dalles.

There were also rumors of financial wrongdoing in the organization, but federal investigators found no trace of the wealth once ascribed to the self-proclaimed ``guru to the rich.''

The 58-year-old Rajneesh reportedly died of a heart attack in Poona, India, Jan. 19.

When Rajneesh was arrested on a chartered airplane while trying to flee the country, his luggage contained nearly $1 million worth of jewelry and $58,000 in currency.

But no trace was ever found of the $55 million in jewelry that was carried on the books of a trust that took donations for the commune, or the $43 million reportedly kept in a secret Swiss bank account set up for the guru.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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