General

Central bank asks three banks to return Sumargi’s money to NIBL

  • The controversial businessman had withdrawn frozen funds after court order
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Jan 23, 2019-

Nepal Rastra Bank on Tuesday wrote to three banks, asking them to deposit the money—withdrawn from Nepal Investment Bank Limited (NIBL) account of Muktishree Cement Industries owned by controversial businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi—back to NIBL.

Following a December 25 Supreme Court interim order of a single bench of Justice Deepak Raj Joshee, Sumargi had withdrawn $6.99 million of Muktishree frozen by the central bank because the controversial businessman had failed to show the source. 

But on January 8, a division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai quashed the December 25 interim order, asking the NIBL to “maintain the balance as it was before the interim order”.

“We have written to three banks in line with the court order,” Narayan Poudel, spokesperson for the central bank, told the Post.

The central bank said it found that the amount debited on Muktishree account in NIBL was deposited in NB Bank, Mahalaxmi Development Bank and a third commercial bank.

“I am not sure whether any amount has been returned to the NIBL after the court order. But, yes we wrote to the banks today [Tuesday],” Poudel added.

 He also made it clear that the central bank “has not frozen Sumargi’s all bank accounts” and that Tuesday’s instruction to the three banks was in line with the latest court order. 

This means, the central bank’s Tuesday’s letter is not related to an earlier amount worth $21.38 million which Sumargi had withdrawn in February last year following an order of a single bench of Supreme Justice Tej Bahadur KC. This amount was also earlier frozen by the central bank. 

Sumargi’s financial transactions have been under scanner for his failure to show the source of money he has brought to Nepal from abroad, mostly tax haven countries. Officials at the Department of Money Laundering Investigation and Financial Information Unit, the country’s financial intelligence arm under the central bank, told the Post on Monday that investigation into Sumargi’s transactions was ongoing.  

A highly placed source at the anti-money laundering agency said the department’s initial probe had found last year that Sumargi and firms affiliated to him had brought around Rs9 billion illegally to Nepal through “suspicious companies” based in tax havens, signalling his involvement in shady business deals.

 Sumargi is one among the 55 persons—Nepalis and non-resident Nepalis—who have been named in an investigation report by the Centre for Investigation Journalism-Nepal for investing in offshore companies and bringing their illicit money to Nepal in the name of foreign direct investment.

Published: 23-01-2019 07:07

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