Couple absconding after defrauding over Rs 70 million

Published On: July 16, 2023 02:57 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

BARA, July 16: A couple has become contactless after collecting more than Rs 70 million from various individuals, cooperatives and financial institutions of Nijgadh Municipality.

Manila Gautam aka Nilu and her husband Bhuwan Bhandari aka Pappu of Nijgadh Municipality-9 have gone into hiding after swindling several people and financial organizations out of Rs 70 million.

The victims who were duped by the couple have appealed to Nijgadh Municipality and District Police Office, Bara, to recover their money. Kalpana Kharel, a resident of Nijgadh, who was defrauded by the Bhandari couple, said, “Manila Gautam asked for a loan saying that she was going to buy land. I gave a cheque of Rs 500,000 to her husband Bhuwan Bhandari on August 24, 2022. But the couple remained contactless without returning that amount.”

Kharel, who is also the chairperson of Samaunnat Mahila Bahuuddeshiya Sahakari Sanstha, Nijgadh, complained that the couple has managed to leave the country by collecting Rs 65 million from 65 different people and Rs 5 million from financial institutions and cooperatives.

Kharel said that they escaped after defrauding people of millions of rupees and 16 cooperatives including Himchuli Sana Kisan Krishi Bahuudeshiya Saharaki Sanstha, Samadhan Savings and Credit Cooperative Ltd, Annapurna Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society Limited etc.

She said that after Manila Gautam became contactless after not paying the principal and interest on the money taken from them and the financial institutions, they initially filed a fraud complaint with the judicial committee of Nijgadh Municipality to prevent the couple from going out of the country.

Rajamani Niraula, the chief administrative officer (CAO) of Nijgadh Municipality, said that after receiving a complaint related to fraud, the judicial committee tried to call Manila, but the call was left unanswered, so Kharel informed the police about the incident.

Niraula said that on July 11, when cooperatives and individuals filed a fraud complaint against Manila Gautam, while investigating the complaint, it was discovered that she had gone to the UAE and the municipality had written a letter to the police to proceed with the action against her.

Another victim Narayan Sharma was duped by Manila Gautam who made him withdraw all the money he had saved in a cooperative and lend it to her.

Manila Gautam, who has been running a fancy shop in Nijgadh, sent her husband to Dubai in December, 2022 after collecting more than Rs 70 million.

Kharel said that after her husband Bhuwan Bhandari went to Dubai for two months, he assured that he would repay everyone's money, but Manila Gautam herself became contactless in February 2022.

Kharel said that the couple had two sons and they were still staying at a relative's house in Nijgadh. Kharel alleges that Bijay Gautam, a resident of Nijgadh and brother of Manila Gautam, had helped the couple leave Nepal.

Bara Superintendent of Police (SP) Hobindra Bogati said that a complaint has been filed to arrest Manila Gautam and Bhuwan Bhandari, who have swindled several people out of millions of rupees.

SP Bogati said that the police have advised the victims to file a case of fraud against the couple who fled with the money. SP Bogati also assured that if the victims proceed with a fraud case, the police will initiate the legal process and utilize Interpol to arrest the fugitives.

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