DoRI takes statement of garment merchant Agrawal by providing hospital facility amid hundi case investigation

Published On: February 29, 2024 09:30 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 29: It has been found that the Department of Revenue Investigation (DoRI) kept Naresh Agarwal, a garment merchant who was arrested for his involvement in Hundi transaction, in Alka Hospital for 24 days. In the meantime, the DoRI filed a chargesheet in the court, focusing solely on the Hundi case without mentioning the matter of transactions via cryptocurrency USDT from his mobile phone.

Agarwal paid Rs 6,000 per day for the hospital room and Rs 5,500 for the police station. Additionally, he also covered the expenses incurred on his food and that of the police personnel watching him at the hospital.

The DoRI took Agarwal's statement from the hospital and presented it to the Kathmandu District Court. "This is not a case that requires detention, so he was released on bail," a source from the DoRI stated. The DoRI faced criticism for detaining him and providing hospital facilities without conducting a proper investigation.

He has since been released on bail as per the court's order. The DoRI only prosecuted him with 'foreign exchange' violations without delving into gold smuggling and cryptocurrency.

At the time of his arrest, evidence of transactions via USDT and a gold weighing machine were found. Despite this, the DoRI seems to have neglected both of these issues, focusing solely on the Hundi transaction.

"The DoRI has also asked the Department of Money Laundering Investigation to investigate the case," the source said. According to sources, it appears that only the source of the money recovered from his residence needs to be verified, while the origin of the millions traded daily through crypto is not under scrutiny.

Last Tuesday, the Kathmandu District Court ordered him to be released on a bond of Rs 1.4 million. Based on the same order, he was released on bail.

The DoRI seemed to have overlooked organized crime, including gold smuggling, and concentrated solely on the Hundi case. Agarwal was allegedly the mastermind for payments related to the gold smuggling of nine kilograms of gold from Tribhuvan International Airport and approximately 61 kilograms of gold seized outside the airport.

"The District Court has granted him bail in the case concerning foreign exchange violation," the DoRI source disclosed. "He will also be investigated for money laundering," said the DoRI source.

Agarwal was apprehended on the night of January 17 from Chhetrapati, and a gold weighing machine was seized from his residence. Despite evidence pointing to his involvement in gold smuggling payments, the DoRI pursued charges related only to the Hundi transaction.

He was arrested by the DoRI with the help of the Intelligence Bureau of Armed Police Force on the night of January 17 from Chhetrapati. At that time, the team of the DoRI recovered Rs 2 million from his house along with USD 2000 and currencies of other countries. At the same time, a gold weighing machine was also recovered from his house. 

According to the officers involved in the investigation, Agarwal was found to have conducted transactions worth millions of rupees in a single day. According to the sources, it was seen that cryptocurrency transactions may have been done to send the funds.

Agarwal also used to maintain detailed records of origins of gold and quantities. It seems that Agarwal has a good influence over the administrative and security agencies of Nepal as the payment of gold is done safely through Hundi. The payment for gold smuggled through Nepal was found to have been transacted by him through Hundi,” said a DoRI source.

The DoRI had prior information about Agarwal but lacked concrete evidence to act against him. It was later discovered that Agarwal and his associates were responsible for the payments related to the gold seized outside the airport. However, insufficient evidence hindered their prosecution.

Later, with the help of the Armed Police Force, a gold weighing machine was also recovered as evidence when he was arrested. While his investigation was underway, Director General of the DoRI, Nawa Raj Dhungana, said, "We are also investigating his involvement in cryptocurrency business." He was released due to the absence of specific laws addressing digital fraud cases.

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