KATHMANDU, May 29: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the authorities to further investigate the source of millions of US dollars of Ajeya Raj Sumargi-owned Muktishree Cement Industry Private Limited now frozen at Nepal Rastra Bank.
A division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana and Justice Bam Kumar Shrestha issued the order asking the authorities to find out the source of the money deposited in the petitioner’s [Sumargi’s] account, whether it was received in violation of the money laundering act and whether the authorities concerned should be punished for this.
“As the letter from Nepal Rastra Bank stated that the petitioner received the money from the petitioner’s own bank account in a foreign country, check the validity of the said amount and take a decision within six months,” states the court order, adding, “Send the progress report on this to the order implementation directorate at the Supreme Court until a final decision is taken in this connection.”
The company had been demanding court intervention against the decision of Nepal Rastra Bank to block the money on the ground of lack of any clear sources for it.
An amount of around 7.5 million US dollars in the name of Sumargi’s firm had been blocked at the central bank. But Sumargi had later withdrawn the money immediately after a single bench of Justice Deepak Raj Joshee on December 28, 2018 issued a short-term stay order asking the authorities to allow him to make the withdrawal.
Then after Sumargi had withdrawn most of the impounded money, taking advantage of Joshee’s short-term stay order, a division bench of CJ Rana and Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai on January 9 declined to give continuity to the stay order.
The division bench of Rana and Bhattarai thus halted the withdrawal of the contested money, stating there was no need for continuing the stay order as sought by Sumargi.
The full text of the court’s ruling has not been issued so far.
The money was brought in by Sumargi from foreign banks without verified sources of income.
Challenging an NRB prohibition against his withdrawing around 7.5 million US dollars from its account, Sumargi’s firm had filed the writ petition at the apex court.
Former chief justice Gopal Parajuli had allowed the Sumargi-owned company to withdraw another sum of 21.3 million US dollars from Nabil Bank and Nepal Investment Bank. But an amount of US dollars 7.5 million was still pending in the bank.