By Sushma Tamang, KATHMANDU:- It has been revealed that Nepal’s leaders, rich and big businessmen have secretly opened an ‘offshore company’ and bought and sold shares in a ‘tax haven’ country where it is considered easy to hide the money earned illegally.
Evidence has been found that Nepalis are also involved in secret investments, transactions and buying and selling of shares by setting up nominal companies in countries where it is considered easy to hide illegally earned money.
According to the revelation, dubbed ‘Pandora Papers’ in collaboration with more than 140 media outlets around the world, including ICIJ, two large business houses in Nepal – Chaudhary Group and Golchha Organization – have also been found to be involved in such activities.
According to a document provided by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) Nepal, a member of the House of Representatives and Nepal’s billionaire, Binod Chaudhary and his family members It has been found that the system has been opened in the British Virgin Islands and the business has been done in different countries.
The companies are named after Binod Chaudhary, his wife Sarika Devi and three sons Nirvana Chaudhary, Barun Chaudahry and Rahul Chaudhary. Golchha Organization is another big business house in Nepal that operates offshore companies. Lokmanya Golchha of Golchha Organization, his two deceased brothers, his cousin Chandra Kumar Golchha and Diwakar’s son Hitesh Golchha have a company in the British Virgin Islands.
It has been found that more foreign companies are also operating with the investment of Nepali citizens Ajey Raj Sumargi, Arjun Prasad Sharma and Kishor Rana mentioned in the previous revelation of Khopke Nepal. Apart from this, Rajendra Shakya and other Nepali businessmen with Lalitpur-Pulchowk address – Suhrid Raj Ghimire, Purushottam Poudyal, Sudhir Mittal of Gyaneshwar, Kathmandu, and Radheshyam Saraf, an Indian citizen doing business in Nepal, have also invested in the tax haven.
Nepalese are not allowed to invest abroad by taking money from Nepal in any name. The Income Tax Act-2002 has provided that a person who has been in Nepal for 183 days or more in a period of 365 consecutive days should be considered as a ‘resident person’. That is, according to the ‘Prohibition of Investing Abroad Act-2021’, no Nepali citizen is allowed to invest in any company after opening an account in a foreign bank.
There is a provision of ‘fine, imprisonment for 6 months or both’ for acting against the law. It is a serious question from the point of view of non-transparent business and legitimacy that even non-resident Nepalis seem to have invested in tax haven countries which are considered easy to evade taxes, do not have to disclose the source of wealth and even hide assets obtained from illicit earnings.
Gerard Royal, director of ICIJ, explains why investing in a tax haven is an “offshore company”. In an interview with Australia’s ABC Television before the Pandora Papers went public, Royal said “the country is losing tax revenue because offshore business increases inequality and poverty in the country concerned.” He said businessmen, leaders, government officials and criminals have benefited from such transactions by taking advantage of offshore privacy.
“Why is it necessary for ordinary people to speak out against the offshore world? It increases poverty and leads to inequality.” When the rich and powerful plunder the country, many problems, such as the refugee problem, arise. “Basically, all the evils in the world are brought into the system, and the purpose of that system is to make some people prosperous,” Royal said in an interview.
In the case of Nepal, full-time politicians are not mentioned in the offshore business so far, but those who do such business seem to be with them. Because so far, the details of 55 Nepalese and non-resident Nepalese doing offshore business have been revealed by CIJ through NepaLeaks on 16th January , 2019.
Even when such details are made public, the silence of powerful state bodies continues. The silence of these bodies seems to be encouraging Nepali investment in tax haven countries. Pandora Papers is an example of that.
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