According to a research published by journalists Krishna Acharya and Ramu Sapkota for the Centre for Investigative Journalism-Nepal, 16 Nepali investors, including the country’s single billionaire Binod Kumar Chaudhary, have shell businesses in tax haven countries, according to the report.
‘The Panama Papers,’ an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with more than 140 media outlets around the world, revealed that two major Nepalese business organisations – the Chaudhary Group and the Golchha Organization – have shell companies in tax haven countries, according to the report.
According to the leak, Chaudhary set up businesses in the British Virgin Islands under his own name as well as the names of his wife Sarika Devi and their three sons, Nirvana, Varun, and Rahul, among others.
In a similar vein, Lokmany Golchha and his two late brothers, Chandra Kumar Golchha and Hitesh Golchha, own a company in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) called Flatwood Limited. According to Pandora leaks, Ajeya Sumargi Parajuli, Arjun Prasad Sharma, and Kishor Rana – whose names were revealed as part of the CIJ’s NepaLeaks probe – have been operating corporations from tax havens, according to the CIJ.
In addition, the Pandora Papers allege that offshore companies have been operating from tax havens under the names of Rajendra Shakya from Pulchowk, Lalitpur, and Nepali businessmen Suhrid Raj Ghimire, Purushottam Poudyal, and Sudhir Mittal from Gyaneshwor, as well as Janak Kumar Basnet, British citizen Janak Daniel Basnet, and Indian citizen Radhe Shyam Saraf.
In response to the claims, the Chaudhary group stated that they had not broken any Nepalese or international laws.
‘As previously mentioned by my father, the chairman of CG, Cinnovation and all of our group companies adhere to all applicable regulations, including Nepali legislation governing foreign investment.’
Because of this, we have no additional comments and/or opinions on the investigations that you have referred to in your email,’ Rahul Chaudhary said.
Lokmanya Golchha and Chandra Kumar Golchha told The Hindu that they did not have a business in the British Virgin Islands.
Lokmanya stated that his Nairobi-based Chandaria Group had made a joint investment in their company in Nepal, and that it was probable that the same company had made a similar investment in the British Virgin Islands as well.
“The Chandaria Group has invested billions of rupees in nearly 25 nations, and it is possible that they hold a company (or companies) in the British Virgin Islands,” Lokmanya stated. Other Nepalis who were identified in the Pandora leak were unable to be reached for further comment.
Unless they meet the requirements of the Act Restricting Investment Abroad-2021, no Nepali citizen may invest in any overseas company or create a bank account in a foreign country. A person who breaches the Act will be subject to “penalty or a fine equal to the amount of money invested abroad, or imprisonment for a period of not more than six months or both.”