Supreme Court sends letters on Sumargi case

  • Nepal Rastra Bank and Nepal Investment Bank told to recover the money withdrawn by the controversial businessman
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jan 11, 2019-

The Supreme Court has written to the Nepal Rastra Bank and Nepal Investment Bank Limited, directing them to redeposit the money that controversial businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi had withdrawn on the basis of an interlocutory interim order issued by the court earlier.

The letter dispatched on Thursday has asked the two banks to take immediate steps as per the Supreme Court’s order on December 8.

On Tuesday, a division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai had quashed the interim order issued by Justice Deepak Raj Joshee.

Justice Joshee had issued the interlocutory interim order on December 25, asking the central bank to allow Sumargi’s Muktishree Cement Industry to withdraw the amount transferred into its bank account from foreign countries.

Sumargi has already withdrawn the frozen amount. Following the court’s order, he remitted $6.99 million to the cement factory’s account in NIBL.

While the central bank has yet to decide how to implement the court order, a senior official said depositing back the withdrawn money was not going to be easy. 

As of Friday, the central bank has not issued any directive to NIBL over Sumargi’s money. 

“The central bank will hold a meeting on Sunday over the issue,” a NRB source told the Post.

Since the Supreme Court order talks about investigating the money under the Anti-Money Laundering Act,  NRB could ask the Department of Anti-Money Laundering Investigation for further probe, an official said.

Legal experts say that the government can pressure Sumargi to re-deposit the withdrawn amount by putting restrictions on his business ventures. 

Advocate Tikaram Bhattarai said the government should play a supportive role to implement the Supreme Court’s order. 

Joint Government Attorney at the Office of the Attorney General Narayan Prasad Poudel said the office will facilitate the government bodies to ensure that the court’s order was implemented.  

The central bank had frozen over Rs3 billion that Sumargi had brought from the British Virgin Islands, citing that he had not followed the procedure as per the Foreign Exchange Regulation.

A preliminary report of the DMLI had shown that Sumargi and his companies have so far received $118 million and 380,000 British pounds from “suspicious companies” based in British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Egypt and Belarus. 

The preliminary report of the DMLI and the CIB indicates that Sumargi may have formed shell companies in tax havens to transfer illegally earned wealth from Nepal and remitted the funds back to the country in the forms of investments and loans.

Published: 11-01-2019 16:39

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