Others against the proposal

Some Oriental Cooperative victims for allowing Basnet to reopen his offices

Published On: June 27, 2016 01:01 PM NPT By: Sagar Ghimire  | @sagarghi

KATHMANDU, June 26: A group of depositors, who have lost their money in the troubled Oriental Cooperative Ltd, is now lobbying actively to allow Oriental and other firms owned by its disgraced promoter Sudheer Basnet to resume operation.

The group, Committee to Protect Interest of Depositors, has argued that Basnet should be allowed to reopen his offices so that he can work toward returning billions of rupees of nearly 1,300 depositors. 

“We have been running pillar to post to recover our deposits. However, nobody listened to our pleas. Since the cooperative has been proposing to reopen its office so that it can work toward returning deposits, the government should facilitate the process,” Ramesh Kumar Mallik, secretary of the committee, said. 

Basnet, who has allegedly embezzled deposits worth billions of rupees, is at large. Police are searching him.
Mallik said that the cooperative should be allowed to reopen so that its promoters, who have made investment in housing units, real estate and other business firms, can complete the their projects or liquidate to get the cash to repay depositors. 

“Since most of the projects are incomplete, auction or sale of assets fetches only meager cash. The government should create conducive environment to complete such projects with a transparent plan and process which can ensure return of depositors’ money,” he added. 

According to Mallik, Oriental Cooperative and its promoter has written a letter to the government, seeking permission to reopen the cooperative and complete the housing projects, which are in limbo, after the cooperative ran into trouble. He said promoters of Oriental approached the depositors through a chartered accountant firm Kshetry and Associates.

However, many depositors say they are against allowing Basnet to resume his projects. “I have also heard that a group of depositors are campaigning to allow Oriental Cooperative to resume its business. However, most of the women, who are pressing the government to act toward recovering deposits from the cooperative, do not have consent on such proposal,” said Kunti Devi Pokharel, one of the victims of Oriental Cooperatives, who has been in the protest for past one month demanding the government intervention to recover their deposits. 

“Most of the housing projects are incomplete. Who is going to provide loans or investments to such projects promoted by a troubled cooperative? Allowing it to resume operation will further dim the chances of recovering our money,” she said, requesting the government to form a management committee to look after these trouble cooperatives and settle their assets and liabilities. 

According to the report of a probe commission formed by the government in September, 2013, under the leadership of former Special Court Judge Gauri Bahadur Karki, a total of 12,962 people have claimed that they have lost Rs 7.6 billion in deposits and Rs 2.4 billion in interest income in 150 cooperatives. Oriental Cooperatives alone owes Rs 5.5 billion to around 11,840 account holders. 

The erstwhile government led by Sushil Koirala had made amendment to the Cooperatives Act through ordinance last year to insert a provision of forming asset and liabilities management committee to return depositors’ money. However, it became void as it was not tabled in the parliament by the incumbent government. 

The Finance Committee of parliament, in the last week of May, instructed the government to recover assets from the chairman, board directors, officials and senior staffers of Oriental Cooperative to return depositors’ money. However, the government has not taken any initiative to return the public deposits.

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