KATHMANDU, Jan 17: Business tycoon Ajeya Raj Sumargi has been found making investment in a company in Cyprus in violation of Nepali laws that bar Nepali nationals from making investment abroad, according to the revelation of a year-long investigation by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The Act Restricting Investment Abroad, 1964, prohibits any Nepali from making investment abroad.
Sumargi is among 55 Nepalis who have invested in offshore companies by breaching the country’s laws, the investigation dubbed as ‘Nepa Leaks 2019’ found.
Among those who have made investments abroad include former lawmaker Birendra Mahato and Arun Kumar Chaudhary, his wife Shila and their sons Karan and Suryans, according to the investigation. Though Nepa Leaks report said it has found at least 55 Nepalis to have invested abroad, there is no mention of all the names and how they managed to route their money from Nepal to foreign countries to make investments.
Republica could not independently verify whether the Nepalis listed in the report are the same people well known in the Nepali business circles.
Those featured in the report include a professor, a doctor, a former Member of Parliament, politicians as well many unheard names.
Sumargi, against whom the Supreme Court recently ordered the government to start money laundering investigation, is found to have invested in Airbell Services Ltd Company in Cyprus. Along with Sumargi, Arjun Sharma (who works with Sumargi’s Muktishree Private Ltd), Zhodar Investment Pvt Ltd (a company registered in British Virgin Islands) and 12 foreigners are other investors of the company incorporated in 2008.
Interestingly, the investigation has also found that Sumargi brought foreign direct investment in Nepal from his own foreign company without following the due process. Between 2008 and 2013, Sumargi brought investment of $63.19 million from Airbell Services Ltd along with $ 60 million from other foreign companies.
Sumargi, however, denies having invested in the foreign company. “How am I supposed to have invested in the Cypriot Airbell Company? Go ahead if you have that information in the document you have obtained,” Sumargi is quoted as saying in the report.
Rama Malla, the daughter of Rana Prime Minister Padma Shumsher, is also found to have made investment in a company in Britain. She made investment on Sixteen Upper Brook Street Ltd in England in 2004. Satish Lal Acharya, a Nepali businessman residing in Singapore, has registered four companies in the British Virgin Islands between 2000 and 2007. His wife Bhawana Singh Shrestha has also registered Sunivera Capital Venture Pvt Ltd in 2015.
The names which are not heard of but feature in the list of Nepalis making investment abroad include Shyam Bahadur Karmacharya, a doctor, and Shatendra Gupta, a professor.