KATHMANDU: Nepalis have stashed Rs 35.8 billion in Swiss banks, violating the country's law which bars them from transferring funds abroad, according to an investigation carried out by the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
The report 'Nepal-leaks 2019: Illegal Wealth watch', released Wednesday night, also claimed that 55 Nepalis have invested in offshore companies, taking advantage of the country's secretive tax regimes and breaching the law which bars investment in foreign countries.
The report is based on an analysis of over 3,000 financial and court documents and interviews with 70 individuals.
Questions have been raised about the source of their investment since they have invested in offshore companies including lesser known British Virgin Islands, says the report.
Those who invested money in foreign countries include politicians to high-flying businessman-some of whom are non-resident Nepalis-to doctors and hoteliers.
The investors include renowned businessmen and industrialists Upendra Mahato, Chandra Dhakal, Rajendra Bajgai and Minu Shah Chhibar.
Majority of the investments were made in businesses registered in the British Virgin Islands, one of the most notorious tax havens in the Caribbean.
The report also revealed how a lot of these investors used their offshore companies to funnel money back into the country under the guise of Foreign Direct Investment.
According to the report, Nepalis have parked Rs 35.8 billion in Swiss banks, violating the country's law, which bars Nepalis from transferring funds abroad.
Nepali account-holders have earned interest of around Rs 774.1 million from the funds they deposited in Swiss banks.
Interestingly, the Nepalese started depositing money in the Swiss Bank in 1996, when the decade-long Maoist insurgency began.
The total amount of money deposited by Nepalis in Swiss Bank amounts to 460.8 million Swiss Franc equivalent to Rs 52 billion.
Even now, Nepalese have Rs 35.8 billion in the Swiss Bank, adds the report.
Between 1996, when the Maoist insurgency startedand 2006when the peace agreement was signed, the amount of money deposited by Nepalis in Swiss banks more than doubled from Rs 1.2 billion to Rs 2.7 billion.
The report has named Minu Shah as the individual with the highest savings among Nepali account holders.
Shah, who was married to an Indian national, made deposit of USD 23 million equivalent to Rs.2.62 billion in the Swiss Bank account.