Supreme Court directs central bank to unfreeze account of Sumargi’s company

Friday, December 28th, 2018 | | National

Dec 28, 2018-

The Supreme Court has directed Nepal Rastra Bank to allow Mukti Shree Cement Industry to withdraw the amount transferred in its account from foreign countries. The central bank had earlier frozen Rs 840 million (US$7.5 million) amount remitted to the company’s account as foreign investment, citing the sources of the amount have not been disclosed.

A single bench of Justice Deepak Raj Joshi on Thursday issued an interim order directing the central bank to release the money from the company’s account as and when it wants until January 8, 2019. The company is owned by businessman Ajeya Raj Sumargi.

The order was issued in response to a writ petition lodged by Lok Bahadur Adhikari of the company, making Nepal Rastra Bank as the defendant.

“Let the company be allowed to withdraw the money from its account according to its need and timetable, and ensure smooth functioning of the account without any hindrance,” read the court order.

Legal experts say though further deliberations will be held on the case again, it doesn’t make much difference as the court order has released the amount.

Prior to this, the apex court had issued an interim order releasing the frozen amount of Rs 2.20 billion that was in the name of Sumargi-owned Nepal Satellite Telecom. However, the court has not shown any readiness to conduct further hearings and issue verdicts on the cases that were sidelined through interim orders.

Thursday’s court order has unfrozen all the money transferred to Sumargi’s companies as foreign investments. For the past four years, the central bank had frozen bank accounts of Sumargi’s companies saying that the money transferred to the accounts failed to provide necessary documents and sources. The Department of Money Laundering Investigation has been conducting a thorough investigation into Rs 12 billion already received by Sumargi’s company, his investment plan and the planned loan from foreign countries in suspicion of black money and financial risks. The department has assigned five officers for further investigation to look into the matter.

The company has claimed that when it tried to convert the account from dollar to rupee, the bank didn’t release the money citing the account has been frozen for the time being. The company moved the court seeking to release its money frozen for an indefinite period without disclosing the reason.