An investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BuzzFeed has found that a few companies based out of Nepal, along with some Nepalese banks are allegedly involved in siphoning off money received suspiciously from abroad.
The investigation report released on Sunday exposes the shenanigans of Nepali companies and banks in attempting to evade the US sanctions and trade, particularly on Iran and China.
The report, dubbed as ‘FinCen Files’, is prepared by ‘Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’, a US government body that monitors financial transactions system in the US. As per the report, 9 banks and 10 companies and several individuals in the time period between December 2006 to March 2017 were found to have made suspicious transfer under the pretext of carrying out cross-border trade.
Nepali organisations have links with international smuggling rackets
The ‘FinCEN Files’ shows that several of the Nepali business organisations have connections with the international smuggling rackets of gold, antiquities, bitumen, and telecommunication equipment.
Banks such as Standard Chartered Bank, Prime Commercial Bank, Bank of Kathmandu, Nepal Investment Bank, Everest Bank, Mega Bank, Himalayan Bank, Apex Development Bank of Kaski, and Nepal Bangladesh Bank are amongst the financial institutions mentioned in the list of entities involved in indulging in dubious transactions.
‘FinCEN files’ expose $300 million in suspicious transactions through Nepal’s banks
Furthermore, 10 Nepali companies have been reportedly linked with sending or receiving funds illicitly. According to reports, a staggering amount of 292.7 million US Dollars have been routed through with the help of the banks and companies in the duration of 11 years.
The names of the companies mentioned in the report are: Rauniyar Brothers & Company, SubhaSamriddhi Traders Pvt. Ltd., Shasta Trading Company, Setidevi Export Import Pvt. Ltd., L.D. International Pvt. Ltd., Felt and Yarn Pvt. Ltd., Woman’s Paper Crafts, Acme Money Transfer Service, and Sunny Enterprises.
Amongst these, companies such as Rauniyar Brothers & Company, Shubha Shambridhi Traders, Private Limited, are under the scanner for being involved in suspicious transactions through Dubai based company called ‘Kite International FZE, who conducts business of importing and exporting petroleum products such bitumen, engine oil for vehicles, lubricants, and rubber processing oil.
The investigation has found sensitive details about these Nepali companies. Rauniyar’s company has imported the goods from Iran, a country under the US trade embargo. But the documents have been faked to show they have been imported from Dubai.
One of the directors of the Rauniyar company, Narayanji Rauniyar, said that his companies have stopped operating since the last four-five years. However, FinCEN files claim that Naranyanji’s son Prakash Kumar Rauniyar, was the mastermind behind the business.
Both the companies— Rauniyar Brothers & Company, SubhaSamriddhi Traders Pvt. Ltd. are registered under the name of Narayanji Rauniyar of Birgunj and his four sons—ShyamBabu, JyotiBabu, Prakash Kumar, and Deep Kumar Babu.
Ties between a Nepali Bank and ZTE
The documents further state that Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) Corporation, China’s largest telecommunications service provider company, remitted 213.3 million US Dollars to other countries, including Nepal, from March 17, 2011, to March 1, 2017.
ZTE had done the transaction through Beijing-based China Construction Bank. The US-based New York branch of China Construction Bank had discovered that the transacted amount was suspicious.
In the duration of three years and four months from November 4, 2013, to February 27, 2017, ZTE was found to have deposited some amount in Nepal Investment Bank, according to ‘FinCEN’.
In the description, four separate amounts: $5,709.09, $5,244.76, $40,357.75 and $10 are found to be deposited by ZTE Corporation in Nepal Investment Bank, Kathmandu.
According to FinCEN, the investigation mentioned ‘several conspiracies’ that the ZTE created to evade US sanctions. The company “makes the purchase of telecommunications equipment from the United States and sells it illegally to Iran as ZTE’s equipment.” According to FinCEN, the ZTE traded suspicious funds in various countries to deceive regulating bodies against US sanctions.