Nepal Investment Bank holding talks to recover money withdrawn by Sumargi

  • Fund transfer controversy
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Jan 15, 2019-

Responding to written instructions from the central bank, Nepal Investment Bank said that it had started consultations with its legal advisors to bring back the money withdrawn by controversial businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi on the basis of an interlocutory interim order issued by the Supreme Court on December 25.

“My legal advisors are going through it. We will also write to all the concerned asking them to return the money as per the court order,” said Nepal Investment Bank CEO Jyoti Prakash Pandey, refusing to disclose further details. 

Nepal Rastra Bank wrote to Nepal Investment Bank Sunday asking it to get back $6.99 million from Muktishree Cement Factory owned by Sumargi after the apex court on January 8 quashed its earlier order and told Nepal Rastra Bank and Nepal Investment Bank to ‘maintain the balance as it was before the [December 25] interim order’.

Nepal Rastra Bank said that the amount that has been withdrawn must be recovered, but the central bank is not clear how it will make Nepal Investment Bank execute the court’s order. A highly placed source at Nepal Rastra Bank blamed the apex court for the confusion. “First of all, it was a court order that allowed Sumargi to withdraw the cash from the bank account after we had frozen it. Now the court wants us to get back the amount,” said the source. 

“As the money has already been withdrawn, we are not clear how Nepal Investment Bank will get it back.” 

An interim order issued by Supreme Court Justice Deepak Raj Joshee to Nepal Rastra Bank and Nepal Investment Bank on December 25 paved the way for Sumargi to withdrawn the money that he had brought in reportedly as foreign investment.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 Tuesday quashed the interim order issued earlier by Justice Joshee. 

While quashing the December 25 interim order, the apex court said that Sumargi’s fund transfer was ‘doubtful’, and that it needed to be investigated under the Money Laundering Prevention Act by the Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DMLI) and the Financial Information Unit (FIU) within the central bank. 

Another source at Nepal Rastra Bank told the Post that they were preparing to ask the DMLI and the FIU to investigate the doubtful fund transfer as directed by the apex court. “We will soon write to the DMLI and the FIU to investigate the matter,” said the source. 

After a preliminary report prepared by the DMLI and the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police found Sumargi’s involvement in illegal fund transfers from abroad with a motive to launder dirty cash, the DMLI a year ago launched a probe into the property owned by Sumargi by forming a five-member team consisting of the deputy attorney, deputy superintendent of police, tax officer and law and administration officers from the department. But the department is yet to make the results public. 

Published: 15-01-2019 07:47

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