Kathmandu: As many as 55 businessmen of Nepal have parked Nepali Rs 52,072,774,000 billion in Swiss Banks by defying the law of the land, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) has claimed.
“Nepal’s law bars Nepalis from investing abroad. Our study found that nearly a dozen business groups are involved in channelling their illegal wealth abroad and bringing the money back into the country in the name of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” the CIJ stated in its editorial after its reports were released Wednesday night.
As per the report’s findings, Nepali investors have stashed a whopping Nepali Rs 52,072,774,000 billion in Swiss Banks. The report states that the trend of sending black money into the Swiss Banks while defying the existing laws had started in 1996, the very same year when the Maoist insurgency hit the nation.
Prominent among those whose names have appeared in the CIJ report include former lawmaker Birendra Mahato in association with Niraj Govinda Shrestha, Upendra Mahato, Romeo Abdo; former President of NRNA Upendra Mahato, wife Samata Nepal and businessman (partner) Niraj Govinda Shrestha who have made investments in British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Belarus, England, and so on, and hotelier Rama Malla in partnership with John Morrison Atwater in UK amongst others.
“According to details released in 2017 by Swiss National Bank, Nepalis deposited 11,042,000 Swiss francs (Nepali Rs 1,247,746,000) in Swiss banks in 1996. Over the period of 10 years, the total saving amount of Nepalis rose to a whopping 240,272,000 Swiss francs (Rs 2,715,736,000). Remarkably, after the end of the conflict, the amount deposited by Nepalis for the next two years saw a dramatic decline,” the CIJ said in its report.
“In 2006 alone, Nepalis deposited 36,727,000 Swiss francs (Rs 4,150,151,000) in Swiss banks. In 2007, the savings fell to 34,500,010 Swiss francs (Rs 3,899,630,000),” the CIJ stated in its sub-report entitled ‘The Nepalis Who Deposited Their Suspicious Wealth in Swiss Banks.’
The investigation has further revealed that two-thirds of the FDI in Nepal has been sourced from the British Virgin Islands. “The survey report on FDI in Nepal published by the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) in June 2018 said ‘FDI totalling Rs 173,678,400,000 has been endowed to the industries currently operating in Nepal.”
“This indicates that more than 60 per cent of the FDI share amounting to Rs 82,655,700,000 in Nepal comes from ‘tax haven’ countries. The British Virgin Islands and the nearby countries alone have an investment totalling Rs 62,779,700,000 in Nepal,” the report stated.
The investigation, on the other hand, has revealed that the statistics maintained by the Department of Industries (DoI), Government of Nepal are not accurate and the companies boasting of the FDI are functional, have ceased to function or have been simply registered.
The investigation also revealed that the DoI had approved FDI equivalent to (Nepali) Rs 282.91 billion, out of which (Nepali) Rs 66.9 billion has been sourced from tax havens. A total of 689 companies from the 17 tax havens were registered with the authority seeking FDI.
“The Government of Nepal has given FDI approval to 17 ‘tax haven’ countries. The permitted investment amount totals Rs 66,901,843,284. On the contrary, evidence shows there has been a total investment of Rs 82.657 billion from these countries, which exceeds the approved amount by Rs 15,755,156,716. A question arises: What caused this difference?” the report states.