Your search keywords:

Fabrication of refugee documents in Nepal is concerning: US State Department

Fabrication of refugee documents in Nepal is concerning: US State Department

The US Department of State’s Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption Richard Nephew paid an official visit to Nepal this past week. According to the US embassy in Kathmandu, Nephew discussed with Nepali officials the progress regarding Nepal’s anti-corruption commitment as part of Summit for Democracy, and pledged US commitment to supporting Nepal’s efforts to eradicate corruption.

Nephew’s visit comes at a time when Nepal is investigating some big corruption scandals such as the fake Bhutanese refugee scandal, Lalita Niwas land grab and Kathmandu airport gold trafficking case. The US anti-corruption head also met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha and the leadership of the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police. 

Fighting corruption is a key component of US foreign policy. In response to ApEx’s email inquiry about Nephew’s visit, a US State Department spokesperson said: “We know as a universal truth that corruption erodes public trust in government and democratic institutions, deepens poverty and inequity, threatens public security, and stifles opportunity and growth.”

“It affects people in virtually every aspect of their daily lives, draining vital resources. That is why President Biden has designated the fight against corruption as a core US national security interest and why Coordinator Nephew’s mission is so important.” 

During his two-day Nepal stay, Nephew met with various Nepali officials  to learn about corruption challenges and to confer on how the US can help address these issues as part of overall Nepal-US partnership.

The US State Department spokesperson said Nephew was not in Nepal to see the progress on any specific case of corruption. In response to ApEx’s inquiry, the spokesperson said: “Just like any allegations of corruption, the current allegations of corruption and the unlawful fabrication of refugee documents in Nepal are concerning.”

This is probably the first time the US has expressed concerns over the fake Bhutanese refugee scam.  

“We understand Nepali authorities are investigating the allegations and hope they will quickly determine what transpired, hold perpetrators accountable, and deter future corruption cases in accordance with the law and the Nepal government’s commitments to transparency and accountability,” said the spokesperson.

“The United States has consistently supported Nepali government and civil society efforts to root out corruption. Transparent investigations into allegations of corruption demonstrate to the Nepali people that no one is above the law.  We commend actions by the Government of Nepal to bring truth to light in accordance with rule of law.”

Between 2007 and 2018, the US has welcomed tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees formerly residing in Nepal as part of our global commitment to support refugees. The program has since ended, and there were no significant concerns regarding fraudulent activity associated with that resettlement process, said the spokesperson. 

Of late, visiting US officials have been raising corruption eradication as a key agenda to strengthen democracy. Earlier in January, US under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland talked with Nepali politicians about the need to continue fighting corruption.

 The Biden administration in 2021 unveiled the US Strategy on Countering Corruption. In June that year, Biden said that corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself. “But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advances of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies,” he added.  

In Nepal, three corruption scandals—fake refugee scandal, Lalita Niwas land grab and gold smuggling—are under investigation. On the fake refugee case, the CIB has already filed cases against more than one person including former home minister, Bal Krishna Khand, and CPN-UML senior leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi.
The CIB has also reopened the file on Lalita Niwas land grab case in which two former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai have also been implicated. The CIB is also investigating the gold trafficking case from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport in which the involvement of high profile business persons and politicians has been suspected.