Nepal's Cooperative Fraud Crisis: 1,200 Fugitives Leave Savers Distressed

Nepal's Cooperative Fraud Crisis: 1,200 Fugitives Leave Savers Distressed

In the past two years, Nepal has been facing a severe crisis as 1,200 individuals accused of embezzling savings from cooperative societies have gone into hiding. This alarming trend has left many savers in distress, with complaints suggesting that a staggering 70 billion rupees of their hard-earned money has not been returned.

Nepal Police spokesperson, Deputy Inspector General Dan Bahadur Karki, revealed that 346 people have been arrested for their involvement in cooperative fraud during this period. Some of these operators, who had fled to different countries before the investigation began, were successfully brought back to Nepal from abroad.

The scale of the problem is evident from the 184 cases related to cooperative fraud that have been registered in various courts over the last two years. Many victims are struggling to recover their savings, leaving them in financial turmoil.

In response to this crisis, a parliamentary committee has been formed to investigate the embezzlement. Committee coordinator Surya Thapa stated that they would start their work within a few days, focusing on the investigation process.

The number of fugitives is rapidly increasing. Police statistics show that 695 people absconded from last July to April, with an additional 512 in the previous financial year. Despite arresting 193 people last year and 153 this financial year, only about 20% of the fugitives have been apprehended.

To intensify their efforts, the police have issued red corner notices through Interpol against six individuals involved in cooperative fraud. This international mechanism allows all member states to monitor and potentially arrest these suspects. However, bringing them back to Nepal can be challenging, especially if they have obtained citizenship or residence permits in other countries.

High-profile cases include Geetendrababu Rai (GB Rai), accused of misappropriating funds from several cooperative organizations. Despite efforts through Interpol and diplomatic channels, he remains at large, believed to be in Malaysia. Recently, Chandra Bahadur Lama (CB Lama), accused of embezzling billions from two cooperative societies, was arrested.

The police attribute the rise in such cases not only to cooperative fraud but also to the recent economic recession, which has led to an increase in banking crimes and fraud. As the financial distress grows, so does the number of absconding individuals, posing a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies.

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