Trafficking slur on Nepal’s envoy to Australia

Kathmandu, December 3

Nepal’s Ambassador to Australia Lucky Sherpa’s driver Wongchhu Sherpa has accused her and her husband of human trafficking.

Wongchhu told a private TV channel of Nepal that he paid Rs 3.3 million to Ambassador Sherpa’s husband to go to Australia. He added that he tried to bring some people to Australia at the behest of Ambassador Sherpa. He said he collected Rs 1.4 million from Nim Dawa Sherpa in order to bring him to Australia, allegedly as per Ambassador Sherpa’s plan and that amount was invested in Ambassador Sherpa’s two ropani land in Naya Pati in Kathmandu.

He added that one woman filed a false case against his wife saying that she had defrauded her of Rs 4 lakh, promising to send her to Australia. Wongchhu said his wife has been in judicial custody since May 20.

He claimed that he had saved the telephonic conversation with Ambassador Sherpa to prove his allegation of human trafficking against her.

Ambassador Sherpa, however, told THT over phone from Australia that Wongchhu’s allegation against her and her family was false and fabricated. She said the telephonic conversation that Wongchhu claimed to have saved was fake.

The Embassy of Nepal in Australia, meanwhile, alleged that Wongchhu had decamped with valuables from the embassy while the ambassador was away. The ambassador added that there were complaints against Wongchhu in Nepal and at the Embassy of Nepal in Australia, accusing him of fraud. The embassy stated that it had written to authorities concerned on December 20, 2017, seeking action against Wongchhu. A case against him is sub judice in Nepal’s court.

The embassy release added that Wongchhu had been living illegally in Australia and was trying to influence the court by levelling false accusations against the ambassador and her family.

Sherpa said if she was found guilty of any wrongdoing she was ready to face punishment. She said Wongchhu wanted to acquire Australia’s permanent residence card and he might have got angry with her when she told him that he would have to return to Nepal upon completion of her tenure in Australia.

Controversy surrounding Ambassador Sherpa, who belongs to the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), has riled party leaders. NCP’s Bishnu Rijal and Yubaraj Chaulagain wrote angry Facebook posts demanding action against the ambassador.

Rijal wrote that she should be immediately sacked and brought to book. He cited examples of Bishwa Pradhan, Maya Sharma and Hamid Ansari, who were sacked after they landed in controversy.

Chaulagain wrote that accusation against Sherpa had tarnished the country’s image.

A source close to Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali said the minister was aware of the controversy and was looking into the matter. MoFA Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi could not be contacted for comments.

NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the party would look into the issue.

According NCP sources, party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who had played a decisive role in Lucky Sherpa’s appointment, had made up his mind  to recall her. Sherpa, who was associated with the CPN-UML, had quit the party to join the erstwhile CPN-Maoist Centre.