Government seeks explanations from Ambassador Sherpa

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Dec 6, 2018-

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sought an explanation from Nepali Ambassador to Australia Lucky Sherpa who has been accused of human trafficking by her former driver Wongchhu Sherpa. 

Wongchhu had accused Ambassador Sherpa and her husband of trafficking Nepali citizens to Australia in a television interview. 

In the interview, Wongchhu had claimed to have collected more than Rs 3 million from several individuals in Nepal by promising them passage to Australia. He had said that the money was collected at the behest of Ambassador Sherpa and her husband, and that he had promised to collect another Rs 6 million for the couple before leaving the job. 

The ambassador has refuted the allegation, but several leaders from the ruling Nepal Communist Party and the opposition Nepali Congress have demanded for an investigation. The government, too, has demanded an explanation from Ambassador Sherpa.

Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi told the Post on Wednesday that Ambassador Sherpa had yet to present her explanation.   

Soon after Ambassador Sherpa left for Canberra to take up her assignment in May, 2017, Wongchhu had accompanied her from Kathmandu. 

According to the officials privy to the development, Wongchhu served two months as domestic help and five months as a driver to the ambassador, and during his short stint serving Ambassador Sherpa, he was always inquiring about or looking for permanent residence facilities in Australia. 

Singapore police is also said to have communicated the Australian police after the former tracked the transfer of Rs 1.2 million  from a person working in Australia with the surname Sherpa. 

Wongchhu was reportedly removed from the job at the embassy after the Australian authorities contacted the Nepali Embassy in Canberra to inquire about the money. 

A day after Wongchhu accused Ambassador Sherpa and her husband of human trafficking in a television interview, the Embassy of Nepal had issued a press statement, claiming that Wongchhu was on the run since November 29, 2017, after stealing valuables from the ambassador’s residence. 

The embassy had also notified the Australian police and the INTERPOL about Wongchhu before announcing that he had been terminated from his job.

Wongchhu had later secured the protective visa. It is not clear how he had managed to get the visa, said an official at the Foreign Ministry.

Sumsher Singh Thapa, an immigration lawyer in Australia, said how Wongchhu, who was wanted by the federal agencies and police, managed to get the protection visa was beyond him. 

Why the Australian Federal Police protected him and granted him protection visa, only Ambassador Sherpa could clarify by bringing out the truth, he added.

During her visit to New Zealand to present her letter of credence on November 21, 2017, Rajendra Pandey, deputy head of the mission at the Nepali Embassy in Australia, had reportedly received a call from Wongchhu, saying that Ambassador Sherpa and her husband had made him sign a bond for payment of Rs 6 million before terminating him from his job. 

Pandey had then taken up the matter to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Sherpa who was in New Zealand.  

According to Wongchhu’s claim, he has in his possession  recorded phone conversation between him and the ambassador to prove the latter’s involvement in the human trafficking case. 

Two NCP leaders, Bishnu Rijal and Yubraj Chaulagai, have called the incident a disgrace on their Facebook posts, and urged the government to immediately remove Ambassador Lama from her post. 

The main opposition, Nepali Congress (NC), has demanded investigation into the allegation. 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the NC said that the government should conduct a fair investigation to find out the truth. 

“We want to remind the government about its responsibility to find out the facts and accusations levelled against Sherpa at the earliest. The post of ambassador representing any country is not a personal business, but a prestigious responsibility to represent the country,” the statement read. 

The NC has also drawn the attention of the government to take steps to remove her if she was found guilty of the charges. 

Published: 06-12-2018 08:23

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