Thermal gun blackmarket accused Agrawal linked to financial irregularities

Published On: April 9, 2020 07:47 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 9: Sulav Agrawal, who was arrested on Tuesday on a charge of black marketing in thermal guns, has been found involved in a number of financial irregularities related to dedicated feeders and in fake VAT invoicing.

Agrawal is vice-president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries and vice-chairman of the Shanker Group. Shanker Group has recently received 20,000 units of thermal guns it ordered from China on a chartered flight last week.

The group recently received 20,000 units of thermal guns that it ordered from China by a chartered flight.

Shanker Group has over 30 companies under its umbrella, spanning sectors including mining, cement, steel, synthetics, textiles, FMCG, trading, insurance, capital market, real estate and hospitality. The group's momentum in manufacturing picked up after it established Jagdamba Steels in 1994 and Jagdamba Cement in 2001.

According to Nepal Police, Agrawal had been selling for Rs 15,000 per unit thermal guns priced at Rs 5,000 in the local market. Police have recovered 67 pieces of thermal guns from Agrawal, who is also the honorary consul of Kyrgyzstan. He was caught selling thermal guns from a vehicle with a diplomatic number plate.

Handheld, non-contact infrared thermometers, or 'temperature guns', have emerged as a popular device around the world to screen people for fevers because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Agrawal had imported seven tons of medical equipment including thermal guns from China recently.

Apart from the thermal guns scam, the Shanker Group had been charged with failing to clear dues for dedicated and trunk lines.

Of the 22 companies that owed over Rs 10 billion for the use of dedicated feeders and trunk lines, Jagadamba Steels was among those with the high amount of dues.

According to officials of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the company owes around Rs 2.63 billion to the state-owned power utility. This accounts for over one-fifth of the total due for dedicated feeders. “Although the authority has already issued bills to pay the dues by mid-March, the company has been refusing to comply,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

In June 2015, a board meeting of the NEA had set a premium tariff for factories using electricity through dedicated feeders and trunk lines with effect from August that year. Citing power outage problems at the time, NEA had decided to impose additional fees on industries that consume high amounts of energy. NEA charges industries using the privilege Rs 17 per unit in contrast to users of electricity from normal grids who pay only Rs 8-10 per unit.

Besides, Jagadamba Steels was also accused for using fake VAT bills to evade tax. According to the Department of Revenue Investigation, the company was found using fake VAT bills worth Rs 900 million in 2010/11. The case is now at the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, Kathmandu District Court remanded Agrawal in custody for seven days.

Note: The earlier version of the story has been edited. Pooja International Nepal Pvt. Ltd. is the authorized distributor of Volkswagen in Nepal.

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