Former ministers and middlemen facing graft charges in Lalita Niwas land grab also being investigated for money launderingDepartment of Money Laundering Investigation says the probe revolves around money the accused had made by using graft amount.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Wednesday filed corruption cases at the Special Court against 175 people, including three former ministers, former senior bureaucrats and middlemen for their alleged involvement in transferring the government land in individuals’ names.
A senior official at the Department of Money Laundering Investigation told the Post that over a dozen individuals including former deputy prime minister and minister for physical planning and works Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, and former land reform ministers Dambar Shrestha and Chandra Dev Joshi, who are facing corruption charges, are also under the department’s scanner.
Among the former ministers, Gachhadar and Shrestha face charges of irregularities worth Rs96.57 million each while Joshi is indicted for Rs70.84 million, according to the anti-graft body.
Alleged middlemen in the Lalita Niwas case—Ram Kumar Subedi and Sobha Kanta Dhakal—and prominent businessman Min Bahadur Gurung, owner of Bhatbhateni Supermarket, are also under investigation, the official at the department said.
The commission has charged Subedi with financial irregularities worth Rs525.14 million, the highest amount, while Gurung faces charges of irregularities worth Rs500 million and Dhakal worth Rs392.76 million.
The department official said that the anti-graft body has been working in tandem with the department regarding the investigation on them.
The department has focussed on investigating people facing corruption charges as it is responsible for investigating the money earned through illegal activities. As the anti-graft body investigates investments made from illegally earned assets by public officials, the department investigates “black money” earned by the people outside the government.
The department is also investigating Deep Basnyat, former chief commissioner at the anti-graft body.
Basnyat, however, faces corruption charges for taking the proposal for expanding Baluwatar, including proposals to transfer the land into individuals’ names, as the secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport in 2010.
The anti-graft body has charged him with corruption amounting to Rs96.57 million. After sensing that he had been transferring his assets to India through a middleman, the department has already frozen his property.
During the initial investigation, Basnyat was found to have invested in various sectors through Bhim Roka, who runs a foreign employment agency.
The department official said that they plan to file a case against him shortly.
The official said the filing of the corruption case has opened the door for the department to prosecute him even on money laundering charges about the investment of property earned through corruption.
Lately, the department has been investigating the proceeds of crimes of the individuals involved in corruption, revenue evading and other criminal activities ahead of mutual evaluation of Nepal’s compliance to global money-laundering standards.
The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering is conducting the mutual evaluation of Nepal’s compliance through peer review later this year. Nepal is a member of this group.