KATHMANDU, Nov 9: Four branded stores -- Nike, Puma, Bentley and Store One -- in Durbar Marg, which were raided by the government in early September, have failed to furnish proof of 'brand authorization' of the products that they were selling, according to officials of the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumer Interest (DoSMPCI). “
"These four stores have not furnished documents that establish them as authorized dealers of the respective brand”," said Ramesh Kaji Shrestha, an official who is overseeing investigation into the case“ "None of the branded outlets were able to provide any sort of agreements with their respective brands"
The department had asked the store operators to furnish 'brand authorization' documents after they were found charging high price for their products. Officials of the department also say that operator of branded stores have changed their stance and now saying that they are only retailers.
Laxman Shrestha, director of DoSMPCI, said“ "We do not have the expertise to verify branded goods. These products cannot be tested in labs like we test food product”." He also urged customers to be aware and identify the brands before buying as the store operators are now claiming that they are mere retailers and not sole distributor.“
"These stores have now put name of their registered firms on signboards. Earlier, they had included only the brand names in their signboards," Shrestha added.
Officials of the department say that they decided to unseal the stores before the Dashain festival after 'collecting proof and necessary information from the operators'.
The investigation into the case has not reached to conclusion yet. The department has forwarded the case to the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) to investigate tax evasion, while Metropolitan Police Range is investigating against the stores for overcharging customers, according to officials of the department“
"We handed over the case related to fraud and over-pricing to the Metropolitan Police Range on September 18 and tax evasion to DRI on October”9," Ramesh Kaji Shrestha, an officer with the department, told Republica.
Shekhar Poudel, an information officer with the DRI, said that a team from the department is investigating the case“. "Revenue investigation is different from conducting raids. It takes a lot of time to study and analyze the ca”e," he added.
Similarly, Ramdutta Joshi, the spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Range, also said investigation into the case was underway“. "To individuals associated with eight branded stores of Durbar Marg are under our custody. We have registered black marketing and fraud case against them," Joshi added.
A team led by the then Minister for Supplies, Shiva Kumar Mandal, had conducted the raid and sealed two shops in New Road and nine in Durbar Marg in early September on charge of fraud, overcharging customers and evading taxes.