KATHMANDU, Feb 6: Officials involved in the investigation into the 33.5 kg gold smuggling case have said that Hari Sharan Khadka, one of the main accused in the case who was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a few days ago, was the kingpin of the smuggling racket.
In a major gold smuggling case in Nepal, 33.5 kg gold had ‘disappeared’ mysteriously from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in November 2017. The government had formed a high-level committee to probe the 33.5 kg gold scam and Sanam Shakya murder case.
Coordinator of the high-level committee, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs Ishwar Raj Paudel hailed the arrest as a significant step in the investigation claiming that Khadka is one of the ‘top-level suspects’ in the gold scam.
“The committee has taken the arrest as a big step in the investigation since Khadka is believed to be the ring leader of the gold smuggling racket,” Paudel said, “He is a big fish in the case as it has been found that he was running the racket from the UAE.”
According to Paudel, the main accused in the case, Chudamani Upreti aka Gore was working for Khadka in the beginning but later formed his own smuggling racket. Gore, in the meantime, would also work for Khadka.
Forty-year-old Khadka, who hails from Kavrepalanchowk district, is also believed to be involved in several previous gold smuggling cases. Paudel added that the committee has also found that Khadka ran a Hundi [illegal money transfer] business from the UAE.
The Nepal Police headquarters said on Tuesday that Khadka was arrested in the UAE a few days ago.
His arrest by the Abu Dhabi Police took place more than six months after the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Nepal issued a red notice against him at the Interpol.
Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of NCB, Superintendent of Police (SP) Umesh Raj Joshi informed Republica that the NCB had issued a red notice against Khadka on July 25 last year. He added that the NCB has already sent the necessary documents to the NCB of UAE for his extradition.
“The UAE-based NCB informed us about the arrest and asked for necessary documents to extradite him. We have already sent the documents,” SP Joshi told Republica.