Troubles are mounting for Nepal’s controversial Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. He is already facing a power struggle within the ruling Nepal Communist Party, and now a Global Watch Analysis report has dropped a bombshell.
The report makes some serious insinuations against Oli. It alleges that the sitting Nepal Prime Minister’s wealth has increased over the years and also accuses Oli of stashing the wealth abroad. Global Watch Analysis has also claimed that Nepal is a “classic example” of how China uses corrupt leaders to make inroads into economically weaker countries.
Roland Jacquard, the author of the Global Watch Analysis report writes, “It has been reliably learnt that he has an account in the Geneva branch of Mirabaud Bank, located in a nondescript building at Boulevard Georges-Favon.” He added that 5.5 million US dollars have been invested in the account in the form of long-term deposits and shares.
Jacquard claims that the account gives a total yield of half a million dollars to Oli and his wife Radhika Sakya on an annual basis.
The report is exhaustive and cites examples of corruption charges against the 68-year old. According to the explosive report, during Oli’s first stint as the Nepal Prime Minister in 2015-16, “there were reports to suggest that with the assistance of the then Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai, he had initiated the process to invest in the telecommunication sector in Cambodia.”
There are also allegations of kickbacks against Oli’s confidantes, including the Health Minister and several senior advisors, of taking kickbacks. Global Watch Analysis also cites certain deals during Oli’s second stint as the Prime Minister where Chinese companies were favoured.
In December 2018, for example, the controversial Chinese telecom major Huawei was awarded the contract to set up a ‘Digital Action Room’ and that too “without a competitive bid”. Even the government-owned Nepal Telecommunications with the required expertise was ignored.
The report further alleges, “Later investigations indicated that Prime Minister’s Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal’s son had pushed for this deal in return for financial gains.”
Huawei itself faces accusations of being infested with security threats which is why the telecom giant has been banned by many countries such as the US, the UK and Australia. China might have been given a free pass to a bug in Nepal. China uses telecom infrastructure in other countries to spy for State secrets.
In 2018, it was revealed that China had “gifted” the African Union a headquarters building. The ‘gift’ was allegedly bugged for State secrets.
Another business dealing under scrutiny is a contract to build the landlocked country’s largest hydropower project. The project unsurprisingly went to one of China’s State-owned companies and again without a competitive bid. Oli had overturned a decision by his predecessor Sher Bahadur Deuba to not award the ambitious project to Beijing.
Global Watch Analysis has further claimed that there were student protests in Nepal in June over poor handling of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The protests revolved around corruption allegations in the purchase of Chinese medical supplies- Personal Protection Equipment and testing kits. Many of the supplies too were alleged to have been defective and over-priced.
The report further states, “The protestors have demanded that the government come clear on the reported Nepalese Rupees 10 billion, equivalent to approximately Euro 73 million, spent in the fight against the pandemic.”
The explosive report has come at a very bad time for Oli. He is already facing internal party issues with the Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal factions upping the ante against him. In order to escape internal political issues, he had ratcheted irredentism against India with artificial territorial claims, and now he has run out of favour with New Delhi too.
Already facing intense opposition, Oli will now find it hard to explain the allegations of the extraordinary rise in his wealth. The 5.5 million US Dollars figure given by Global Watch Analysis is mind-boggling especially when we consider the basic monthly salary of Nepal PM- 77,800 Nepalese Rupees (approximately 647.45 US Dollars).