Third ‘don’ walks free

  • Special Court acquits Parshuram Basnet in money-laundering case on Sunday
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Apr 10, 2018-The Special Court on Sunday found ‘notorious don’ Parshuram Basnet not guilty in a money-laundering case.

A joint bench of Special Court Chairman Baburam Regmi, Ratna Bahadur Bagchand and Narayan Prasad Pokharel acquitted Basnet stating the Department of Money Laundering Investigation’s (DoMLI) claims about Basnet amassing property could not be established.

In the chargesheet, the DoMLI had charged Basnet with illegally amassing property worth Rs110.1 million from his involvement in contract work, demanding ransom from business community and commission from smugglers.

The department had termed his banking transitions worth Rs95 million, purchase of land worth Rs7.14 million, sales of land worth Rs4.35 million, vehicle purchase worth Rs6.49 million and share purchase worth Rs2.1 million as illegally earned properties.

Special Court Spokesperson Nagendra Pokharel said the court acquitted Basnet on three counts—that the DoMLI considered loans taken from banks to purchase vehicles as illegally earned property; claim that he had purchased shares of Nepal Bazaar International company proved false and, third the department considered amount deposited and withdrawn from the bank as illegally earned property.

 The Office of Attorney General has the option of registering an appeal with the Supreme Court in maximum 50 days after getting the full verdict.

“After studying the full verdict, we may decide on appealing to the Supreme Court,” said Murari Prasad Poudel, joint attorney general at the Special Government Attorney Office.  

In the last eight months, this is the third instance of the Special Court acquitting politically well-connected people charged with amassing properties illegally. Basnet is close to the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) and UML.

On August 20 last year, the court acquitted Rajeev Gurung also known as Deepak Manage on the same charge while another gangster Milan Gurung aka Chakre Milan walked free on January 24 this year.

The DoMLI on May 19, 2013 had filed separate cases against five’ notorious dons’—Ganesh Lama, Abhisek Giri and the aforementioned men on charges of amassing millions of rupees illegally.

All are known for their strong political connections. Basnet, allegedly masterminded of the attack on Biratnagar-based journalist Khila Nath Dhakal in

2009, is currently secretary of the Youth Association Nepal (YAN), a youth wing

of UML.

Manange won the provincial assembly elections from Manang (B) as independent candidate with UML’s backing. He was disqualified to assume office as lawmaker after the Supreme Court in January upheld Patan Appellate Court’s verdict of sentencing Manange in attempted murder conviction. Manange’s gang had attacked his rival Chakre Milan 13 years ago in Kathmandu.

Lama was also the candidate for provincial assembly elections from Kavre-1 (B). He was central committee member of Bijaya Kumar Gachchadar-led Nepal Loktantrik Forum. He became the NC leader after the two parties merged before elections.

Milan is considered close to the UML while Giri is considered close to the NC.  

The AG office had decided to register appeal at the Supreme Court against the Special Court verdict on Manange. However, the office said it is yet to receive the court’s full verdict on Chakre Milan.

The DoMLI had charged Manange and Chakre Milan of amassing Rs140.7 million Rs70.8 million respectively in illegal manner. Officials at DoMLI suspect the other two ‘dons’—Lama and Giri might also get clean chit after the Special Court acquitted the three. Lama and Giri face charges of illegally amassing properties worth Rs270 million and Rs20.9 million respectively.

The ‘gangsters’ acquittals by the Special Court raise questions of whether political connections played a role in the verdicts.

 “There is a tendency of weakening the case under the political influence despite openly seeing illegal earnings,” said Former Finance Secretary Rameshore Khanal.

He said that influence of the ‘dons’ could have negative impact on attracting foreign investment. “There remains the possibility of dons seeking stakes in foreign investors’ projects,” he said.

 

Published: 10-04-2018 08:02

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