Published On: May 25, 2023 02:20 PM NPT By: Sara Pahari
KATHMANDU, May 24: The Nepal Police issued a statement on Wednesday refuting any involvement of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Basanta Kunwar in the ongoing investigation of the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. The statement came in response to allegations suggesting that the Police Chief had taken financial benefit from the accused individuals involved in the scam.
In the press release, spokesperson Kuber Kadayat emphasized that there was no basis, fact, or evidence to support the claims against IGP Basanta Kunwar. Dissemination of news without proper verification and evidence can lead to confusion among the public and damage the credibility and image of the Nepal Police organization. The Headquarters of the Nepal Police strongly disagreed with the defamatory news that questioned the chain of command and integrity of the Police Chief.
The statement further stated that the Nepal Police is committed to upholding the constitution, laws, and the organization's values. Their primary objective is to ensure that no innocent person is wrongfully implicated and that the guilty face appropriate consequences for their actions.
This development arose during the investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam, where 30 individuals, including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand, have been accused of multiple crimes. The District Attorney Office Kathmandu has filed criminal cases against them, seeking punishment for offenses such as fraud, organized crime, bribery, crime against the state, and integrated crime.
However, the police clarification regarding IGP Basanta Kunwar's involvement in the scam came after lawmakers raised concerns during a meeting of the House of Representatives, urging the Home Minister to suspend the Police Chief and conduct a thorough investigation.
The police are currently investigating the offenses related to the organized crime aspect of the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. Initially, the investigation focused on fraud, but upon discovering a well-planned fraud ring involving several high-profile individuals, the police sought permission from the District Court Kathmandu to expand the investigation to include organized crime. Following the court's approval, the ongoing investigation now encompasses organized crime as well.
As the investigation unfolds, it is becoming evident that the scope of this case extends beyond fraud and organized crime. According to the investigating officers, the individuals implicated in this case may face five additional offenses.
The District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu, has identified possible charges of fraud, organized crime, treason, forgery, and corruption offenses against those arrested thus far. Moreover, experts suggest that the case may also be referred to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for investigation and prosecution through the Special Court.The accusations in the case involve allegations of collecting substantial sums of money from victims by promising to facilitate their migration to the United States as fake Bhutanese refugees.
In the case of the fake Bhutanese refugees, The District Attorney Office Kathmandu has filed a case against 30 persons at District Court in connection with a fake Bhutanese refugee scam.
The public prosecutor's office has demanded to freeze the assets and passports of 30 defendants who have been indicted in the case of fake refugees.The public prosecutor’s office has requested the court to seize the property of the defendants in accordance with subsection (2) of section 15 of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, 2070 BS and the passport to be withheld in accordance with section 17, it is mentioned in the charge sheet.Among 30 sued by the Attorney Office, 16 are under arrest while 14 others are at large. Following the registration of case, District Attorney Mahesh Khatri said 30 persons were sued and 14 who are absconding will be issued arrest warrant and their property suspended from transaction.
The District Public Prosecutor's Office has filed criminal cases against them, seeking punishment for fraud, organized crime, bribery, crime against the state, and integrated crime.
The punishments for these offenses vary as follows:
Fraud: Punishable by a fine of up to 70,000 rupees and imprisonment for up to 7 years.
Organized crime: An additional 50% penalty is added to the punishment for the offense committed.
Bribery: Punishments range from three months' imprisonment for bribes up to 25,000 rupees to eight to ten years' imprisonment for bribes worth millions of rupees. Confiscation of bribe money is also possible.
Crime against the state (treason): Punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to 50,000 rupees.
Integrated crime: The sentence of the offense with the highest punishment is combined with half of the sentence of the next offense with the maximum punishment.
The accused individuals, including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand, are facing charges of treason, organized crime, fraud, and forgery. Additional penalties are being sought for public officials compared to non-public office holders.
The chargesheet reveals that the accused collected 288.17 million rupees from 115 victims, promising to send them to the US disguised as Bhutanese refugees. The accused individuals are currently in police custody, while others who are on the run are also facing the same charges.
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