Supreme Court's order on Sumargi case remains unimplemented for seven monthsA division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai had ordered retrieval of money withdrawn by controversial businessman
Authorities are yet to implement a seven-month-old Supreme Court order to retrieve the money that controversial businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi had withdrawn from Nepal Investment Bank Limited.
Sumargi had withdrawn almost all the money—$6.99 million—which was frozen at the bank by the Nepal Rastra Bank, following an interim order issued on December 25 last year.
On January 8, however, a division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai quashed the interim order and asked the bank to maintain Sumargi’s account “as it was.”
As per this order, the money that Sumargi withdrew and transferred to Nepal Bangladesh Bank, Prime Bank and Mahalaxmi Development Bank should have been returned to Nepal Investment Bank.
But the central bank and concerned banks confirmed that the money has not been returned yet. The Supreme Court has also not taken any steps to ensure that its order is implemented.
According to Devendra Dhakal, an information officer at the Supreme Court, the court has not enquired anyone about the implementation of its order in Sumargi’s case.
“The court takes action on non-implementation of its order if a petition of contempt of court is registered. But I don’t know about any complaint registered at the Supreme Court,” Dhakal told the Post.
Legal experts also point out the need for registration of a petition for the court to take action.
“The court itself does not act without a complaint,” said Sanjeev Raj Regmi, joint attorney at the Office of the Attorney General.
According to him, the court also seeks clarification regarding the charge from the accused before issuing any order. “It is a basic principle of fair trial,” Regmi, who is also spokesperson for the Attorney General Office, told the Post.
On May 28, the Supreme Court continued the earlier order of freezing Sumargi’s money deposited in the name of Muktishree Cements at Nepal Investment Bank Limited as it is, even though the money already withdrawn from the bank had not been redeposited.
But officials at the central bank and concerned banks said that it was difficult to return the money from other banks to Nepal Investment Bank Limited, as Sumargi used the funds withdrawn from the bank to repay loans and pay salaries to his staff.
Laxmi Prapanna Niraula, spokesperson for the central bank, told the Post that it has been difficult for other banks to return Sumargi’s money as the money that he had withdrawn was used for loan settlement.
He, however, could not confirm whether the central bank has made efforts to ensure that the court order is enforced. Right after the court order in January, the central bank had told the banks to ensure that Sumargi’s money is returned where it is supposed to be as per the court order.
But Nepal Rastra Bank officials say it has been difficult to retrieve the amount as the court has not spoken anything about how the recovery should be made.
Banks where the withdrawn money of Sumargi landed also say that they were not in a position to return the money. Sumargi used the withdrawn money to pay around Rs250 million to Nepal Bangladesh Bank as loan repayment.
Gyanendra Dhungana, chief executive officer of Nepal Bangladesh Bank, said how his bank could not return the money of loan repayment.
“He will not pay his loans if we return the money to Nepal Investment Bank now,” said Dhungana. “Had it been a deposit amount, the money could have been recovered by freezing his account .”
Chief Executive Officer of Prime Bank Narayan Das Manandar echoed Dhungana.
“It is easier to return the deposited amount. But how can we return the money paid as loan servicing?” said Dhungana.
After the December 25 interim order, Sumargi had transferred around Rs200 million to his Prime Bank account. Of that amount, Sumargi had paid around Rs100 million to service his loans. The remaining amount also has been withdrawn, according to Prime Bank.
Likewise, Sumargi had deposited around Rs100 million to Mahalaxmi Development Bank after withdrawing the money from Nepal Investment Bank.
But before January 8 court ruling, he had already withdrawn almost all the money from Mahalaxmi Development Bank on different dates. Sumargi had used the amount transferred to Mahalaxmi Development Bank tor paying taxes and salaries to his staff.