Congested Cash Traffic

  3 min 57 sec to read

A recent investigative report  named 'Swiss Leaks' by a group of international journalists also revealed the names of some Nepali nationals as having supposedly secretive bank accounts in HSBC-Switzerland. Some USD 45 million seems to be routed through some weird location called Virgin Islands, a tax haven and offshore financial hub though quite far away from Nepal. Incidentally, media reports back home a few weeks ago reported that this very Virgin Islands has topped the list of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Nepal over last two years. In addition, news of some Rs 10 billion that had purportedly come from the same location has also got prominent coverage. The Nepali regulatory authorities have blocked the amount for it was claimed to have been an FDI but without specifying any projects and potential investment area.  Many eyebrows were also raised because, this amount is said to have been belonged to a nouveau riche businessman whose links to UCPN Maoist Chairman is a public knowledge.
Whatsoever, the featuring of the Virgin Islands at the main route to the flow of huge amount of cash, both to and from Nepal, can't just be a single coincidence. The debate surrounding this money now revolves round mainly on the legality of its source, the revelation of which would solve a number of riddles. Is this the money that had gone out during the insurgency? The likelihood is high as there was no investment climate in Nepal and business community was the most insecure lot who might have taken their moveable assets out of the country. If this is the case, the amount found in many Swiss bank accounts may not be entirely illegally earned. Also, the amount extorted and looted by the Maoists during insurgency is also believed to have been very hefty that was then possibly could have been sent out of the country. There are conjectures that it is the same money that is trying to re-enter Nepal which was parked in many safer locations in the world, including various Swiss banks. The Maoist connection to the main character in question who became capable of 'attracting' FDI in this scale in relatively short span of time only helps to strengthen this hypothesis.
The third dimension is that, the world is becoming increasingly unsafe to park such disproportionate income of individuals and companies as very sophisticated noose of global intelligence agencies gets tightened with increasing terrorist activities in the world. Therefore, the black money may be trying to enter Nepal given the fact that the country's legal system is porous and political and administrative system highly corrupt.
There may be legal or ethical aspects regarding the source, ownership and flow of these funds. But from an economic point of view, these recent episodes are merely related to the investment and business climate in Nepal. If such huge amount of money has been flowing out of the country, the economic climate has not improved. And as the money that is trying to come in is suspicious, it gives all the wrong messages that Nepal may be becoming a new hub for international money-laundering.
The only way to put speculation of varied nature to an end is to investigate the matters, both of Swiss bank accounts and suspicious inflows in the guise of unconvincing FDI, to the fag end of their roots and use the findings in the better interest of the country. But it is an unlikely expectation in present day Nepal. First, the owners and/or managers of these funds are so well-connected that they are sure to escape through our corrupt system. Second, the same money is rumoured to have been used to secure key appointments for the people who promised all out help for them. Third, Nepal perhaps doesn't have required logistic means and preparedness to carry out investigation in such extensive scale.
But, for her long term interest, Nepal must come out of the image that is now portrayed. Now, the general message that is going out is that, everything that is going on in this respect is wrong, or anything is possible here to convert the black money into white in absence laws or their effective enforcement. The short term solution to this is to conclude the investigation and long term one is to improve the overall business climate of the country so that the capital doesn't fly out and genuine FDI, not possible black money, begins to flow in.

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