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CIJ false report on money laundering troubles Nepalese businessman

KATHMANDU: Some businessmen have faced serious problems due to recent news published by the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) Nepal entitled 55 Nepalese invested in offshore companies.

Some of them have experienced difficulties even with their businesses abroad. They have complained that such news stories could discourage foreign investment in Nepal as well. The CIJ Nepal had published the story in January this year based upon the global investigation carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Dr. Niraj Govinda Shrestha, a Non-Resident Nepalese businessman, has various businesses over various countries across the globe. As one of the businessmen named in the story published by the CIJ, he has submitted a formal petition at the Nepal Press Council clarifying that the published news story was baseless and resulted in severe personal, social and business loss to him.

According to him, because of the media reports, his daughter and son-in-law, who run their own business in the United Kingdom (UK), have also faced financial losses due to unfounded allegations against him.

Talking to The Rising Nepal, he said that the CIJ did not call him up before the news was published.

The CIJ Nepal has now published Shrestha’s comments along with the news in their website following an instruction by the Nepal Press Council.

Kishore Shrestha, acting Chairperson of Nepal Press Council, said that the Council has reminded the CIJ to ensure basic principles and code of conduct of journalism by giving an opportunity to the people mentioned in the news providing their voice in the story.

In his petition, Dr. Shrestha had expressed his doubt over the issue of code of ethics of media and had asked the CIJ to publish the petition filed by him.

In their websites, the CIJ has clarified that Dr. Shrestha has denied any involvement in the money laundering activities. The CIJ has quoted him as saying that sources of all his investments in Nepal are legitimate.

“We never wrote that Dr. Shrestha has not disclosed sources of his investment in Nepal,” the CIJ said.

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DMLI) and Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police (CIB), all three government agencies have given clean chit to Dr. Shrestha.

They have acclaimed that there is no complaint registered against Dr. Shrestha in connection with money laundering charges.

Jiban Prakash Sitaula, Director General of the DMLI, said, “There is no case against Mr. Shrestha in the past as well.”

Likewise, CIB has verified too. Chintamani Shivakoti, Deputy Governor of the NRB, said, “We have not received any complaint against Mr. Shrestha and there is no any pending investigation against him.”

The government of Nepal had organised the Nepal Investment Summit in March this year with a view to attract foreign investments.

However, businessmen had complained that false reports regarding investment by NRNs and other investors could jeopardise the prospects of attracting foreign investment in Nepal.

“Foreign investors today have a number of options before them since many countries have been competing among themselves to attract foreign investors.

Thus, the concerned media has to be accountable not to publish any unsubstantiated news reports that could discourage or even harass prospective foreign investors,” said Dr. Shrestha, adding, “I would like to request friends in media to contact me before publishing any reports related to my businesses.”

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