Kathmandu, April 13

Investors of Citizens’ Bank International Limited returned empty-handed and seething today when issue manager Ace Development Bank Limited failed to return their deposit. Nearly half of the collection money remained unreturned.

“Come the day after tomorrow,” officials of Unique Financial Institution Limited at New Plaza, Putalisadak have been telling the investors coming there for refund. When this scribe asked them why they were not refunding the deposit they hemmed and hawed. At last, an offical explained on condition of anonymity, “Senior officials are not here. It is basically a management problem.” The nearby Annapurna Finance also seemed reluctant to refund the deposit today.

Citizens’ Bank shares were opened to the public from January 10 to 14 and the allocation was made on April 9. Around 17,750 people including 115 employees got shares whereas the total number of applicants was 275,042. The issue manager, Ace Development Bank, has to return full deposit of 58.64 million units of share equivalent to Rs 5.864 billion.

“They are cheating us,” investor Kedar Giri foamed at the mouth. He too had to return empty-handed. “They should be punished,” he added. Hundreds of others had to swelter in the heat because of the mismanagement of the issue manager and collection counter workers.

Ace Development Bank has already published a notice about refunding the money from today. Officials of the bank tried to pass the buck saying they had already sent cheques to the collection counters. “Perhaps, there is a problem with the courier service,” said Ace official Radheya Shrestha, adding, “I will check and solve the problem.”

Securities Board of Nepal (Sebon) also was caught unawares about the issue. “Is it happening?” asked Sebon director Neeraj Giri after the poser was put to him. “Sebon will investigate and punish them if this is true,” he assured.

Laws and regulations of Sebon are sufficient to punish those committing irregularities. Sebon can levy a fine from Rs 50,000 to Rs150,000 from collection counters failing to return the deposit in time. Sebon can even seal the centres if they do it again. Lastly, the license of the issue manager can be cancelled.

“It is the issue manager’s fault. Ace must take onus,” said former Sebon general manager Dr Chiranjivi adding Sebon must protect the rights of investors. He blaming issue managers for creating delays like these in order to earn interest from the deposit.