Systemic weaknesses to be blamed for most mistakes: Study team

Kathmandu, December 11

The committee formed to probe the allegations of misconduct by deputy governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Shiva Raj Shrestha has concluded that while he acted against the law in some instances, most of the mistakes made were due to systemic deficiencies/ weaknesses.

The committee, which was led by the central bank’s Board Director Sri Ram Poudyal, submitted its study report to the NRB board on Tuesday evening. Though the board was expected to submit the report to Ministry of Finance (MoF) today, MoF Spokesperson Uttar Kumar Khatri informed that the ministry is yet to receive the study report from NRB.

Shrestha had faced the probe for ‘various misconducts’, including his involvement in jeopardising the country’s financial stability, promoting money laundering and taking facilities unlawfully during his foreign trips, among others.

Shrestha had been suspended from his post at NRB when the investigation was launched.

“We have examined every allegation against Shrestha in detail and submitted our findings to the NRB board.

While he did break the rules in some cases, we found systemic errors were to be blamed for the majority of the charges levelled against him and he could not be held solely responsible for it,” informed a member of the probe committee seeking anonymity.

Shrestha was also accused of favouring telecom firm Ncell in a case that was earlier sub-judice at the Supreme Court and also of helping banks and financial institutions to conceal bad loans.

In the charges regarding Ncell, the probe committee has stated that no individual NRB official could be held accountable, as the process for allowing any multinational company to repatriate its profit requires approval from multiple government agencies before the final nod from the central bank.

However, during the investigation, the team uncovered evidences that proved Shrestha had assisted a few institutions that had breached financial stability in the country, as per the committee member.

The member, however, refused to divulge further details about the evidences and the institutions involved.

Meanwhile, the inquiry committee member also clarified that the report has not recommend any action against Shrestha. “We have just collected the facts on every charge against him and handed it to NRB. It is now up to the government, especially the Ministry of Finance, to decide whether or not action should be taken against Shrestha,” said the member.

Earlier, the Cabinet had charged Shrestha of being involved in jeopardising the country’s financial stability, promoting money laundering and taking facilities unlawfully during his foreign trips. Following this, the Ministry of Finance had tasked NRB to initiate a probe on Shrestha.

However, Shrestha has been refuting all allegations against him. Though he did not receive calls from The Himalayan Times today, he had earlier stated that all allegations against him were false and aimed at tarnishing his credibility amid the race for post of the governor.