Prithvi Man Shrestha, The Kathmandu Post, 25 July 2018
Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DoMLI) has said that it has won over 80 percent of the money laundering cases it had filed at the Special Court although there is a concern over clean chit given by the court to some ‘notorious’ dons.
According to the Department, the court gave verdict in favour of the state in 21 cases out of 25 so far, which means the success rate of 84 percent.
The department said it has so far filed over 40 cases at the Special Court. But, the cases where the state suffered failure are related to notorious ‘dons’ who have good connection with the major political parties in Nepal.
On August 20 last year, the court acquitted Rajeev Gurung aka Deepak Manange on the same charge. Another gangster Milan Gurung aka Chakre Milan walked free on January 24 this year. On April 8, the court exonerated another ‘Don’ Parshuram Basnet and on June 19, another ‘gangster’ Abhisek Giri got clean chit from the Special Court.
The first three of them are considered close to CPN (UML), one of the two parties that merged to become ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Manange even won the provincial assembly election as independent candidate from Manang district with the strong backing from then UML.
However, Manage could not serve as provincial assembly member because the Supreme Court sentenced him to five-year prison term in January on charge of an attempted murder. Giri is considered close to the main opposition party-Nepali Congress.
Former Chairman of the Special Court Gauri Bahadur Karki said the court has been more lenient towards politically connected ‘Dons’ than required. “For example, a don got clean chit as the court did not consider the property he earned before the introduction of Money Laundering Prevention Act was introduced as illegal,” he said. “There is also tendency to become flexible in the case of such persons when the court has to seek bail amount as well by charging minimum bail amount even in large scale offenses.”
Despite failure in some of the high-profile money laundering cases, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said the Nepali state is succeeding in prosecuting criminals in money laundering cases.
“I have information from the colleagues that there is almost 90 percent success rate in court cases. This shows our growing capacity to tackle such kind of illegal activities,” Khatiwada said while addressing the 21st plenary of Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering that opened in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
Khatiwada highlighted the measures taken by the government on Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
“A number of laws and regulations have been enacted; AML/CFT National Strategy and Action Plan have been implemented; structural and institutional setup has been built; and AML/CFT regulatory & supervisory regimes have been operationalised,” he said.
Nepal completed its first AML/CFT self-assessment, he said and that the country is now drafting second national strategy that would focus on enhancing enforcement and effectiveness by revising the laws and strengthening the institutional arrangement.
The government has brought the DoMLI under the Prime Minister’s Office from the Finance Ministry as a part of strengthening the agency.