Confusion persists over getting Sumargi’s money back to bank

- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Jan 11, 2019-

Confusion persists even two days after the Supreme Court quashed its own interim order to let controversial businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi withdraw the money frozen in the bank over ways to get the amount back into his account.

A December 25 interim order by a single bench of Supreme Court Justice Deepak Raj Joshee to the Nepal Investment Bank Limited (NIBL) had paved the way for Sumargi to withdrawn the money that he had brought in reportedly as foreign investment.

But in a bizarre turn of events, a division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai on Tuesday decided to quash the earlier interim order issued by Justice Joshee, asking the concerned bank to “maintain the balance as it was before the [December 25] interim order”.

With the money already withdrawn, confusion has arisen now as to how the court order will be implemented.

The central bank had barred Muktishree Cement Industry, a company owned by Sumargi, from withdrawing $6.99 million remitted to the cement factory’s account in the NIBL, saying that sources of the money had not been disclosed.

A top Nepal Rastra Bank official on Tuesday confirmed to the Post that Sumargi had already withdrawn the frozen amount following the interim order.

Legal experts said Tuesday’s new order “to maintain the balance as it was before” meant Sumargi must deposit the withdrawn amount back in the bank.

NIBL CEO Jyoti Prakash Pandey on Wednesday told the Post that the bank would initiate action in line with the court order. But he did not respond to the Post’s repeated calls and text messages on Thursday.

Bhisma Raj Dhungana, chief of the foreign exchange department at NRB, told the Post that the central bank was yet to receive the full text of the court order.

“We will initiate the process to get the money back in the bank after holding legal consultations,” said Dhungana.

“I will be able to speak about NRB’s next move only after legal consultations.”

While quashing the December 25 interim order, the apex court on Tuesday said that Sumargi’s fund transfer was “doubtful”.

The fund transfer by the cement factory owner needs to be investigated under the Anti Money Laundering Act, read the order seen by the Post.

Published: 11-01-2019 09:02

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