Labor Minister Aryal implicated in cooperative fraud?

Published On: April 2, 2024 05:50 PM NPT By: Dilip Paudel

KATHMANDU, April 2: Amid accusations of misappropriating cooperative funds against Home Minister and Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) Chairman Rabi Lamichhane, another high-ranking member of the same party, Vice-Chairman Dol Prasad (DP) Aryal, is now entangled in a cooperative fraud scandal.

During Aryal's tenure as vice-chairman of the 'Hamro Naya Agricultural Co-Operative,' depositors were unable to retrieve more than Rs 40 million. Last January, the government declared Hamro Naya Agricultural Co-Operative as problematic after it failed to return the depositors' funds. Notably, Aryal and RSP's Joint General Secretary Kabindra Burlakoti served as directors of the cooperative, with Surya Gurung acting as the chairman during Aryal's vice-chairmanship.

A total of 26 depositors lodged a complaint seeking refunds during Aryal's tenure as vice-chairman. Despite numerous attempts, the depositors did not receive reimbursement, prompting them to file a formal complaint with the Department of Cooperatives. Aryal left the co-operative in 2023 after he introduced GB Rai, a business associate of RSP Chairman Lamichhane, into the cooperative. Upon transitioning into active politics, Aryal left the cooperative.

One of the directors said, "It was DP Aryal who brought GB Rai to the cooperative," he added, "The cooperative faced difficulties during his tenure." Surya Gurung stepped down from the board of directors when GB Rai assumed control.

Sections 104 (1) (a) to (f) of the Cooperative Act, 2074, were invoked when action was taken to address the cooperative’s failure to refund members' savings, in violation of the cooperative rules, regulations and values. As per the recommendation of the Registrar of the Cooperative Department, the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives, and Poverty Alleviation declared Hamro Naya Agricultural Co-Operative as problematic under section 104 (2) of the Act. The ministry has referred the matter to the Problematic Cooperative Management Committee, established under Section 105 of the same Act, to manage the cooperative's assets and liabilities.

Keshav Prasad Paudel, member secretary of the Problematic Cooperative Management Committee, disclosed that 34 individuals had filed complaints regarding the non-repayment of deposits totaling over Rs 40 million. "We have secured and sealed the cooperative's documents for examination," stated Paudel. He added, “The documents are currently under review.”

When Aryal's team left the cooperative after bringing in GB Rai, the victims filed a complaint with the Department of Cooperatives demanding the return of their deposits in the cooperative. RSP Vice-Chairman and Labor Minister Aryal admitted that he was the vice-chairman of the cooperative.

"I held the position of vice-chairman at Hamro Naya Agricultural Co-operative and had invested Rs 2.3 million." Aryal clarified that he refrained from conducting business during his tenure and voluntarily resigned in 2023. "There were no issues during my tenure," Aryal said. However, cooperative depositors reject his assertions.


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