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Dirty money probe not all smooth sailing

  DMLI in need of more teeth‚ less political pressure

KUVERA CHALISE

KATHMANDU: The Department of Money Laundering Investigation, which yesterday chargesheeted five dons accusing them of amassing property without known legal sources, has so far collected around some Rs 210 million from earlier cases.

However, only 10 of the 24 cases of money laundering have been finalised, according to DMLI. "In all 10 cases, the court ruling has been in favour of DMLI, making it collect Rs 107.90 million," a source told THT seeking anonymity.

According to the anti-money laundering law, the accused, after being convicted by the court, also must pay a fine equal to the amount they are charged with amassing illegally. Including the cases of the five gangsters against who DMLI has moved the Special Court, the total cases now are worth around Rs 1.74 billion. DMLI yesterday filed money laundering cases against five dons charging them with accumulating assets worth Rs 630 million through extortion, commission and other criminal activities.

DMLI's latest move may look pretty promising, but it is not all smooth sailing, especially when it comes to country's commitment to the international community to fight against dirty money. In the last two years since its establishment, DMLI has seen as many as six chiefs; needless to say, because of political pressure.

"Once we start investigation, the department chief gets a transfer order," the source said, adding that DMLI, which can investigate politically exposed persons (PEPs), their families and associates, and gangsters if they are found to have accumulated wealth without any particular source of income, is in need of more teeth.

The amended recommendation of Financial Action Task Force — a global anti-money laundering agency — has asked the national authorities to issue a public list of PEPs to check corruption, apart from financing terrorist activities. "But the long-drawn political transition and frequent government changes have thrown a spanner in DMLI's works," he added.

"The government had planned to appoint secretary, instead of current provision of joint secretary, as the director general to head DMLI to strengthen it, but the entire process has been delayed to due to 'pressure'," the source told THT.

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