PM Dahal shows interest in Sumargi’s frozen fund

  • Businessman’s Rs 3bn remains blocked for four years
- BIBEK SUBEDI, Kathmandu

Aug 25, 2016-

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has shown interest in businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi’s frozen funds. Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has blocked Sumargi’s Rs 3 billion for more than last four years. 

Multiple sources said that PM Dahal, during his meeting with NRB Governor Chiranjivi Nepal last week, had enquired about the reason behind central bank refusing to release the money Sumargi had brought from abroad.  “PM Dahal urged the NRB governor to address the issue at the earliest,” said a source. “However, he refrained from giving any explicit directive whether to release the amount or not.” 

Deputy Governor Chintamani Shiwakoti, Revenue Secretary Rajan Khanal, PMO Secretaries Shanta Bahadur Shrestha and Kedar Bahadur Adhikari and two joint secretaries from the Ministry of Finance were also present in the meeting.

 “The NRB decided to freeze the money brought by Sumargi after finding procedural lapses,” the source quoted Governor Nepal as telling PM Dahal.  

 The central bank had frozen Sumargi’s Rs 3 billion deposited at Nepal Investment Bank Limited and Nabil Bank, stating that he had failed to follow due procedure as per the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. The Department of Industries, after consulting with the NRB, had also barred Sumargi from bringing additional Rs 8 billion in forms of loan from abroad.

 The NRB on August 5 last year had asked Sumargi’s Muktishree Group why it had borrowed loan from abroad, submit the basis for repayment and about the areas where his company planned to utilise the money. It had also asked Muktishree 

Group to submit details about the company that was providing loan and repayment timetable.

 Sumargi is said to be close to Dahal. Multiple sources have confirmed that Sumargi has been continuously lobbying with senior politicians of major political parties to get the approval from the central bank to bring around Rs 11 billion from abroad. 

According to an NRB source, Sumargi’s company had initially tried to get the approval from the NRB to bring around Rs 18 billion from abroad, but the central bank had rejected. 

Sumargi then brought Rs 3 billion from the British Virgin Islands based on Investment Board Nepal’s decision, without taking approval from the NRB. As per the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, NRB’s approval is a must to inject loan from abroad. Subsequently, the NRB froze the money and told the company to comply with regulations. 

Four years ago, Sumargi had submitted a foreign direct investment proposal to the government seeking to bring money from two different countries. It had sought to bring $45 million (approximately Rs 4.5 billion) from Zhodar Investment 

Company in British Virgin Islands and $65 million (approximately Rs6.5 billion) from Airbell Company based in Cyprus to invest in Nepal Satellite Telecom. 

Published: 25-08-2016 10:24

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