Officials grill 3 accused over money launderingThe Department of Money Laundering Investigation on Monday interrogated three main accused in the 33kg gold smuggling case about their illegal income.
The Department of Money Laundering Investigation on Monday interrogated three main accused in the 33kg gold smuggling case about their illegal income.
Chudamani Upreti aka Gore, Bhujung Gurung and Tsering Wangel Ghale were brought to Kathmandu early Monday after the Morang District Court on Sunday decided to send them to the department for probe alleging their involvement in money laundering.
As recommended by the Morang District Attorney’s Office, the department had launched an investigation on money laundering charges against them. It then wrote to the prosecutor to send them in for interrogation.
“We quizzed them for around two hours,” said Binod Lamichhane, information officer at the department. “We are seeking to find whether they earned money illegally and how they used their income from gold smuggling.”
Lamichhane said that the three accused could provide the gateway into those who directed them to smuggle gold and benefited from it. “If found, we’ll confiscate such property,” he added. After interrogation, they were sent to the central jail on Monday.
On May 2, the Morang DAO filed a charge sheet against 63 suspects, seeking to recover from the accused Rs17 billion, on top of additional Rs18 million in fines. In the charge sheet registered at the Morang District Court, the prosecutor said it had recommended that constitutional and government bodies study three additional charges—corruption, money laundering and foreign exchange misappropriation by the accused.
The prosecutor had written to the Anti-money Laundering Department to probe possible illegal incomes of defendants other than government employees as provisioned in Clause 20 of the Organised Crime Act and Clause 29 of the Money Laundering Prevention Act.
According to the charge sheet, the accused have earned property through criminal means involving gangs, gold smuggling, abduction and murder. Given the possibility of illegally earned money getting into businesses, the prosecutor had sought details of bank accounts, vehicles, land and properties and the shares owned by the accused and their family members. The government agencies concerned were requested to freeze the specified movable and immovable properties with approval from the court.
The Morang DAO also recommended that the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority watch over DIG Govinda Prasad Niraula, SSP Shyam Bahadur Khatri, SP Bikas Raj Khanal, DSP Sanjaya Bahadur Raut, Sub-inspector Bal Krishna Sanjel, Constable Bishnu Khadka, Head Constable Ambar Bahadur Thapa Magar and Nepal Airlines Corporation staffers Raju Maharjan, Rajan Thapa, Tularam Tharu and Amarman Dangol on corruption charges.
The prosecutor also wrote to the Department of Revenue Investigation and the Nepal Rastra Bank to look into possible foreign exchange embezzlement by the defendants other than government officials as they had used Hundi to transfer fund in violation of foreign exchange rules.