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Ambassador Sherpa summoned to Kathmandu

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Dec 8, 2018-

The government has summoned Nepal’s Ambassador to Australia Lucky Sherpa to Kathmandu after she was charged with human trafficking by her former driver. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday instructed Ambassador Sherpa to report to the ministry within three days with an explanation. 

Earlier this week, the ministry had sought a written clarification from her.

Ambassador Sherpa and her husband have been accused of running a human trafficking racket by her former driver Wongchhu Sherpa.

Wongchhu, who was reportedly fired from his job last November, had claimed in a recent television interview that he used to collect money for the Sherpa couple from several individuals in Nepal in return for safe passage to Australia.

Ministry officials told the Post on Friday that Ambassador Sherpa was asked to report to the ministry in person because her written explanation was not convincing.    

Ambassador Sherpa is likely to appear at the Foreign Ministry and meet with Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi.

Officials said the decision over her removal or continuity in the post will only be taken after the meeting next week.

According to Wongchhu’s account, he had collected more than Rs3 million, on behalf of the ambassador and her husband, from several individuals in Nepal in return for a safe passage to Australia. He said he had promised to collect another Rs6 million for the couple before leaving his job.

Sherpa has refuted the allegations. But Wongchhu said he has a recording of a phone conversation between him and the ambassador in his possession.

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

The officials, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, said the Singapore police last year had communicated with the Australian police after tracking a transfer of Rs1.2 million from an individual with a surname Sherpa into Wongchhu’s account in Australia.

Wongchhu was then removed from the job after the Australian authorities contacted the Nepali Embassy to inquire about the money. A day after Wongchhu accused Ambassador Sherpa and her husband of human trafficking, the Embassy of Nepal issued a press statement which said Wongchhu had been on the run since November 29, 2017, after stealing valuables from the ambassador’s residence.

Wongchhu had accompanied the ambassador to Canberra after she was assigned to the role in May 2017.

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

Earlier this year, Wongchhu secured a protective visa though it is unclear how he managed to receive one while under investigation by Australian authorities.

Officials at the Nepali Embassy said that Wongchhu called the deputy head of the mission in Canberra while the ambassador was on a trip to New Zealand, and said she had made him sign a bond for Rs6 million before terminating him from his job.

It was then that Rajendra Pandey, the deputy at the mission, called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Sherpa to inform them about the accusation.

Some members of the ruling Nepal Communist Party and the main opposition Nepali Congress have demanded Sherpa’s removal from the post. According to an NCP leader, Sherpa, who represents the ruling party, there is a political manoeuvering within the party circle to protect her from the controversy.

Published: 08-12-2018 07:13

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