Nepal has been caught facilitating the red-rogue state of China to bypass stringent US sanctions imposed on Iran. Another arch nemesis of the United States, Iran has been helped by Nepal to somehow evade US trade sanctions and indulge in smuggling-like trade with the communist state of Nepal. As per an explosive report which has come to the fore, involving five years of rigorous investigations no less, a multitude of Nepal’s banks and companies have been caught red-handed acting as channels for Iran and China to evade US’ sanctions.
An investigation made by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), Nepal along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BuzzFeed has revealed 292.7 million US Dollars in suspicious money transfers. The top-secret documents have been prepared by the US government’s financial watchdog, called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which has named the said documents as the ‘FinCEN Files’. According to these files, in a period of 11 years between December 2006 and March 2017, 9 banks, 10 companies and various individuals in Nepal were found to have transacted suspicious funds in the name of cross-border trade.
While the world community has been dismissing Nepal’s theatrics as inconsequential over the past few months, it has now emerged that the client state of China is executing a much larger nefarious ploy than anyone could have expected them to. With a Communist government at the helm of affairs in Kathmandu, whose every step is dictated by Beijing, Nepal has now been exposed as a country helping US’ enemies in evading the stringent sanctions imposed upon them. For the same, the consequences which the landlocked country will be made to face, rest assured, will be tremendous.
“This shows that some Nepali business entities are linked to the international smuggling of gold, antiquities, bitumen, and telecommunication equipment. Standard Chartered Bank, Prime Commercial Bank, Bank of Kathmandu, Nepal Investment Bank, Everest Bank, Mega Bank, Himalayan Bank, Apex Development Bank of Kaski, and Nepal Bangladesh Bank are mentioned in the list of banks that are involved in transferring money suspicious,” the 25 paged report stated.
The report has also named Rauniyar Brothers & Company, SubhaSamriddhi Traders Pvt. Ltd., Shasta Trading Company, Setidevi Export Import Pvt. Ltd., L.D. International Pvt. Ltd., Felt and Yarn Pvt. Ltd., Woman’s Paper Crafts, Acme Money Transfer Service, and Sunny Enterprises as the companies allegedly involved in suspicious cross-border transactions.
The report reveals how Nepali companies which actually bought goods from the sanctions-ridden country – Iran, forged documents in order to convince the global regulatory authorities that the commodities were taken from other countries or locations, which were not in Iran. For instance, the Rauniyar family is said to have traded and transferred suspicious money in the name of import and export of bitumen and petroleum products in Nepal. However, Rauniyar’s company brought the goods from Iran, while the the documents were forged by it to show that the goods have been imported from Dubai.
With its godfather China, Nepal went a step further, and allowed Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) Corporation, China’s largest telecommunications service provider company facing global backlash and bans, to deposit close to $51,312.6 in the Nepal Investment Bank between 2013 and 2017. ZTE has also been caught buying telecommunications equipment from the US, labelling it as its own, and subsequently selling the same to Iran.
Such large-scale facilitation of Iran and China to evade US sanctions by various banks and companies in Nepal can definitely not happen without the explicit consent of the ruling governments. To help countries evade US sanction is a serious violation of the superpower’s trust and friendship, the costs of which Oli’s Nepal will have to be prepared to face. It must be remembered that the US has invested heavily in Nepal and also provides aid to the country which has now chosen to voluntarily become a vassal state of China.
Already, under KP Sharma Oli, Nepal has antagonised India by claiming its sovereign territories and showcasing them in its new political map. Also, under Oli’s reign, China has been able to completely hijack the political discourse and decision-making process in Nepal. With friends like China and Iran, Nepal is bound to be taught a lesson of a lifetime by US, India and other allies, now that the country’s helpful nature towards Iran and China, in violation of US sanctions, has been exposed.
It would not be hyperbole to suggest that Nepal, in a bid to help other sanction-ridden countries alleviate their economic woes, will end up facing stringent sanction by the US and western world itself. Already, India is sitting on the edge when it comes to Nepal and might go for an all-out economic slaughter of the communist state’s economy if it fails to mend its ways.
Nepal is playing a very dangerous game, by prostrating before countries like China and Nepal, while irking India and the US. The costs of antagonising the latter two might just end up being disproportionately more than any benefits it is reaping out of helping the former two nations.