Police Face Challenges To Stop Circulation Of Illegal Money

On September 24, a team from the Nagdhunga Metropolitan Police Circle stopped and checked a micro bus (Ga 1 Kha 6645).
Sagar Mali, 26, and Krishna Adhade, 19, who were in seat numbers 8 and 9 of the hiace en route to Kathmandu from Chitwan, came under the police scrutiny. The police then started checking the black bag they carried with them all the way from their home in Maharashtra, India.

Police then recovered Rs. 4.5 million from Sagar and Rs. 5 million from Krishna. Then they searched for the source of the money. The police asked them to state the source of the money, but they couldn’t.
It was natural for them to be investigated by the police for traveling with a huge amount of cash. Unable to disclose the source, they were soon arrested and the money was labeled “illegal”.

Why did they come to Nepal carrying such a big amount of money? Is it their money or they are just someone else’s mules? Police are searching for the answer to these questions. Now, the matter will be investigated by the Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DMLI). If undisclosed money is found, the police should submit it to the department for further investigation.

“The seized amount is not theirs. They are just porters. They have disclosed the names of some during interrogation,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range, Ashok Singh.

It is nothing new for the Nepal Police to arrest people with illegal money. However, those who are caught with such money in most cases are not the real owners of the money, SSP Singh said.
Despite investigations by the police and the department, the police have rarely reached the ‘actual owner’ in most of these cases. However, the connection of the seized amount is detected for buying gold or hundi transaction done to legalise the illegal money.

“Our investigation has shown that the seized money is meant either to buy gold in Nepal or to do hundi transaction through Nepal. But, we are looking for the real owners or agents involved in this incident,” said SSP Singh.
Connection of illegal money with gold smuggling

Amit Kumar Gupta, 30, was caught by the police on January 4, 2021 just like Sagar and Krishna were arrested in Nagdhunga last week. Gupta, who hails from Gorakhpur, India, was apprehended at 4:27 am at the Nagdhunga checkpoint in Chandragiri Municipality-2, Kathmandu.

The money was found inside a silver-coloured car (Pradesh 3-01-023 Cha 2259) which Gupta was riding. He was on the way to Kathmandu from Kapilvastu. The police had special information in which it was learnt that he was in possession of undisclosed money. Police had deployed security personnel accordingly.

Initially, nothing was found inside the car. Later, the amount was found hidden under the spare tyre of the car. Police then recovered Rs. 14.7 million in three black bags inside the car. All currencies were of 1000 denomination. An additional Rs. 86,000 was found during a search of Gupta’s body.

Police also arrested the driver of the car: Sangam Tharu, 22, of Kapilvastu Bandganga Municipality-4. The car impounded by the police was found to be rented. Police handed over the money and the duo to the department for further investigation. Later, through the investigation, it was found that they had come to Nepal with the money to buy gold. The department filed a case against them in a special court with a claim of Rs. 29.2 million.
After two months of investigation, the department ascertained that the seized money was sent by the Indian citizen Amit Kumar Gupta alias Ankit Kumar Agrawal, the real owner who dispatched the money to buy gold illegally.

“The latest incident was also linked to buying gold,” Sushil Prasad Acharya, spokesman for the department told The Rising Nepal.
Nepal Police had seized Rs. 70,135,944 in the fiscal year 2020/21 alone, an increase of about 706 per cent from the previous year. According to the latest police statistics, the rate of seizure of illegal currency has been growing every year, signaling that the transaction of gold and hundi has shot up in Nepal.
Unsourced money exits Nepal to buy gold

Police arrested Sitaram BK, 42, of Gorkha Municipality-2 from Tribhuvan International Airport on September 21, 2021. He was on his way to Dubai by Nepal Airlines flight number RA 229.

Preparing to board a flight on a visit visa, he was caught by security personnel. The reason was the cash he had with him. Police found USD 13,000 in his pocket. Nepalis are not allowed to carry more than 5,000 US dollars when they go abroad, a ceiling set by Nepal Rastra Bank. The bank from which such amount is exchanged should also be disclosed in the document along with visa. However, that was not the case with BK.

Initial police investigation showed that he was in preparation to go out of the country with the strategy of taking foreign currency notes as per the plan of the gold smugglers and bringing gold from Dubai on his return. However, he has not accepted the charge during the interrogation, said the police.

Laxmi Niraula, head of the customs office at Tribhuvan International Airport, informed that passengers can bring up to 50 grams of gold who have gone for foreign employment.

Those involved in such a network of gold smuggling have been seen going abroad from Nepal with the dollars and exchanging Indian currencies at the border to bring gold to Kathmandu.

It seems that Indian currencies coming from inside Nepal are exchanged with Nepali currencies. A police investigation has shown that Amit Kumar Gupta also embezzled Rs. 14.7 million applying the same technique.
The department has 1,300 cases of undisclosed sources, out of which 220 complaints are under investigation.

Also, the number of complaints related to such cases is on the rise. In the fiscal year 2073/74, the department had filed 38 cases demanding Rs. 1.12 billion as property equal to the losses. Similarly, the number of cases registered decreased after the completion of investigation in the fiscal year 2074/75. Only four cases reached the court. A claim for Rs. 582.23 million was made in those cases.

In 2075/76, nine cases reached the court with a demand for Rs. 515.862 million. Spokesperson Acharya said that 10 cases were filed in 2076/77 with a demand for Rs 3.63 billion.
Five cases have made it to the court in the first three months of the current fiscal year claiming Rs. 237 million amount.

“Most of the cases involving illegal money are found to be linked to gold and hundi transaction,” said Acharya.

Source : TRN,