NRB wins US legal battle repossesses $1 million

Kathmandu, June 20

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central monetary authority, has won a major legal battle in New York, enabling it to repossess $1 million, which was withdrawn from its bank account in the United States based on a false claim.

NRB had been fighting this court case for around eight years.

“We are happy the Court of Appeals of New York today issued a verdict in our favour,” Hari Nepal, deputy director at Financial Information Unit of Nepal Rastra Bank, told The Himalayan Times.

The root of this case can be traced back to 2008, when a Chinese citizen, Wu Lisiang, opened an account in Bhainsepati branch of Nepal Bangladesh Bank. Later, the account saw transfer of $1 million from a company named Tarala International, located in the US. One of the partners of Tarala International was Asim Khatri Chettri, according to Nepal.

After detecting transfer of such a huge amount, NRB smelt a rat. It then approached the Department of Revenue Investigation, which at the time used to handle cases related to money laundering. In no time, the department said the transfer was suspicious.

“We then froze the account,” said Nepal.

After some time, NRB noticed that $1 million had disappeared from its account in Standard Chartered Bank in New York, the US.

“When we launched an inquiry into the matter, we found that the amount had been removed from our account based on instruction issued by the district court of New York,” said Nepal.

The district court had issued the order after Tarala International complained NRB had illegally confiscated the amount belonging to the company in Nepal.

“Based on this complaint, the US district court had ordered that the money be withdrawn from our US account ... But when we fought the case, district court ruled in our favour,” said Nepal.

The company then moved the Court of Appeals of New York.

“The appeals court has also ruled in our favour, which means the company which filed a case against us has been proved wrong twice,” Nepal said.