Money laundering watchdog to probe fund transfer

Kathmandu, January 17

The Department of Money Laundering Investigation — the money laundering watchdog — will probe transfer of funds by Nepalis to foreign banks, especially to Switzerland.

Talking to THT today, DoMLI Director Binod Lamichhane said an investigation would be launched taking into consideration the findings of Nepal Leaks 2019: Illegal Wealth Watch, which was unveiled yesterday.

The report, which was prepared by the Centre for Investigative Journalism in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, stated that Nepalis had parked Rs 35.8 billion in Swiss banks, violating the country’s law that bars Nepalis from transferring funds abroad.

THT had carried a story disclosing these findings back in July. “The DoMLI has been investigating the aforementioned issue since long. However, we will intensify the probe taking into consideration the findings of recent media reports,” said Lamichhane.

The report revealed that 55 Nepalis had invested in several foreign countries and nearly a dozen business groups were involved in channelling their illegal wealth abroad. These groups are also bringing the money back into the country in the name of foreign direct investment, adds the report.

Nepalis, other than non-resident Nepalis, cannot transfer funds from Nepal or invest in a foreign country. “However, Nepali citizens and NRNs were found to have evaded Nepal’s taxes, invested money in countries where taxes are not strictly enforced, and brought back the money as FDI,” states the report.

Meanwhile, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has stated that investigating money laundering is not under its jurisdiction. “We will probe this issue only if the involvement of any government official is suspected in money laundering,” said Rameshwor Dangal, spokesperson for CIAA.