National

Gold smuggling probe stalls

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Despite the completion of a report that said 293 individuals are directly and indirectly involved in the 33 kg gold-smuggling scandal, the fate of the case remains in limbo as the government fails to make progress in the investigation.

The investigation, which was led by then Home Ministry joint-secretary Ishwor Poudel, concluded after a 752-page report was submitted to the prime minister on August 1. The team had suggested that the government form a proper committee to further the investigation and continue arrests until an official team is set up to interrogate those accused of smuggling the yellow metal.

Last month, Ramesh Uprety and Benu Shrestha were detained in the United Arab Emirates. Uprety is the brother of Chudamani Upreti aka Gore, the kingpin of the smuggling racket. The duo is in custody of Interpol and the government has sent necessary documents to the Emirati officials to repatriate them.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police Basanta Lama, a member of the investigation team, many of the suspects are yet to be interrogated while the process of arresting others has slowed down. “We have asked the government to form a team with some of the best officers in Nepal Police,” said Lama.

The government has not reached a decision on whether, or when, new investigation begins. Out of the 293 accused, a case against 75 individuals has already been filed at the District Court, Morang. Only 45 have been presented to the court till date. Officials have also issued a Red Notice against those evading arrest, suspecting that they could be hiding abroad.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Nishan Thapa, investigating officer at the Morang District Police, the legal procedure against the detainees is ongoing at the district court.

“The probe report should have made it clearer that the arrests are not over,” said Thapa. As the report mentions various aliases of racket members, questions have been raised whether further investigation could lead to some known faces. A number of traders and security officials have been held for their dubious roles.

Kiran Bhattarai, press coordinator at the Home Ministry, said the government would decide the future course of investigation. “The prime minister and the home minister will be soon present a joint decision,” he said.

Published: 2018-08-13 09:44:04