Bansbari Land Case: CIB records Binod Chaudhary’s statement « Khabarhub
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Bansbari Land Case: CIB records Binod Chaudhary’s statement

21 March 2024  

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KATHMANDU: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police is currently recording statements from Member of the House of Representatives, and Nepali Congress central member, and businessman Binod Chaudhary regarding the embezzlement of government land associated with the Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory.

The Champion Footwear, established in 2043 BS, with a focus on producing textile shoes, acquired 10 plots of land previously owned by Bansbari Leather Shoe Company.

The Chaudhary family, alongside other stakeholders, including the Bansbari Leather Shoe Company were involved in this venture.

However, allegations suggest collusion during the land acquisition process.

Three years later, Champion Footwear ceased operations, and the entirety of the land came under their possession.

It should be noted that CIB’s SP Hobindra Bogati on Wednesday registered a letter at the Parliament Secretariat to inform Speaker Devraj Ghimire about the investigation against lawmaker Chaudhary for his alleged involvement in the land embezzlement case.

Sources suggest that Chaudhary is not only embroiled in the Bansbari land case but also faces allegations of encroaching upon government land in various locations across the country.

Chaudhary’s land grabbing cases:

Chaudhary is accused of illegally acquiring 10 ropani of land from the Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory.

The land was transferred to Champion Footwear under an illegal agreement, and Chaudhary subsequently renamed the company to CG Chandbagh Residency Pvt.

He later gave the land to his brother, Arun Chaudhary, who now operates CG Chandbagh School on the seized property.

Similarly, Binod Chaudhary’s company, CG Hills, is constructing a housing project on government land in Bhainsepati. The road leading to this project in Lalitpur is currently a focal point of local protests.

The CG Hills, acquired land inexpensively in the inner and steep areas of Bhainsepati. Due to the absence of a road, the company took control of government land.

Interestingly, the same government land is now being advertised as having a spacious road, with houses from the housing project up for sale.

Sources claimed that though some houses have been constructed in the area, they are accessible only through government land.

Allegedly, Binod Choudhary facilitated road access by purchasing 8 annas 2 paise of land from an individual. Additionally, his company captured 5 ropani 2 annas of government land.

That is not all. Accusations are made against the land registry, surveyor’s office, and local representatives for supporting the overnight seizure of government land.

For instance, in 2076 BS, plot number 65 from Fast Track was registered under the ownership of CG Hills.

To delve into the issue further, some locals, including Tara Baral, Suresh Thapa, Ram Bhakta Pandey and Parameshwar Thapa, have filed a case in Patan High Court against the land revenue office employees on this issue.

Despite the ongoing court case, the matter brought before the authority is currently under review.

Meanwhile, locals of Satungal are grappling with the challenge of reclaiming the path obstructed by Chaudhary.

Binod Chaudhary, in collaboration with the then prince Dhirendra Shah, purchased four plots of land from Ganesh Bahadur Shrestha in Satungal for Rs 2 lakh 12 thousand, ostensibly for establishing the Apollo Steel factory.

Each of the four parts had a narrow road. A year after acquiring the land, Chaudhary closed the road on the east side.

Locals say that the road, currently seized by Binod Chaudhary, is on land valued in crores. Instead of financial compensation, the locals sought justice through the land revenue office and court, demanding that the road they used to traverse should not be closed. However, the Chaudhary Group did not yield the said road.

For four decades, the people of Satungal have been contending to regain the road appropriated by Binod Chaudhary.

Apart from this, allegations have been leveled against CG Industrial Park in Devchuli Municipality-2 of Nawalparasi for encroaching on public land.

A former government official asserted that the Chaudhary Group expanded its business empire by encroaching and occupying government land in various other places across the country.

According to the source, Binod Chaudhary and his family have appropriated government land in at least 50 locations across he country.

Meanwhile, it has come to light that the billionaire Binod Chaudhary, akin to his brother Arun Chaudhary, holds shares in Champion Footwear Company, a venture implicated in acquiring government land from the Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory.

Documents reveal that Arun Chaudhary, Binod’s younger brother, possesses 200 shares in Champion Footwear Limited. Despite Arun’s arrest in connection to this case, Binod was not apprehended.

The documents indicate that the 200 shares, valued at 2 lakhs, are part of an agreement specifying that the company should hold 2,500 shares of Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory.

It is also noted in the document that Binod’s father, Lunkarandas Chaudhary, owns more than 2100 shares in the Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory. At the time, the total shares amounted to 5000, including Lunkaran, Binod, and Arun.

Despite Binod Chaudhary being the mastermind behind the land acquisition, the CIB arrested only Arun Chaudhary, Ajit Narayan Singh Thapa, the then executive head of Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory, and Sanjay Thakur, a former employee of the Chaudhary Group.

Sources claim that the CIB has been facing enormous pressure not to arrest Binod Chaudhary.

In light of this, Ajit Narayan Singh Thapa, on behalf of Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory, allegedly favored the board of directors against the law by appointing Champion Footwear Ltd., where Arun Chaudhary also serves as a Director, for land acquisition.

It was discovered that fraud, including the establishment of a company for land acquisition, had been committed.

The source revealed, “The Chaudhary family seems to have attempted to influence the owners and employees of the Bansbari Leather and Shoe Factory. This appears to be part of a plan to portray the factory as continually incurring losses, urging them to sell the land to offset the losses and ultimately seizing the said land.”

Three days after the inception of Champion Footwear Company, a Board of Directors meeting at Bansbari Leather and Shoe Factory decided to allocate 6 acres of land to Champion Footwear Company Limited at a rate of 250,000 per ropani.

A year later, the factory resolved to provide an additional 4 ropanis of land to Champion Footwear.

The decision included purchasing 2,500 shares in Champion Footwear at the rate of 1,000 per share, not in cash.

However, sources said that a total of 2,000 shares from Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory, with 500 shares appearing to be fragmented.

Meanwhile, Ajit Narayan Singh Thapa, the key figure behind the decision to allocate land to Champion Footwear, established by the Chaudhary Group of Industries, was the executive chairman of Bansbari Leather Footwear Factory during that period.

During the investigation conducted by the CIB, it was discovered that Thapa invested a total of Rs 12 lakh 25 thousand in Champion Footwear, while Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory had invested over Rs 26 lakh.

According to CIB, it is noted that without the approval of the then government, the board of directors had no authority to sell land in the factory’s name.

In light of this, Ajit Narayan Singh Thapa, on behalf of Bansbari Leather Shoe Factory, allegedly favored the board of directors against the law by appointing Champion Footwear Ltd., where Arun Chaudhary also serves as a Director, for land acquisition.

It should be noted that Arun Chaudhary acknowledged Binod Chaudhary’s involvement in his statement to the CIB.

In contrast, Binod Chaudhary insists that he legally acquired the shares and questioned the authenticity of the approval process during that time.

According to Arun, his elder brother Binod Chaudhary, as the Chairman of the board of directors at the time, played a role in purchasing land by offering shares.

A source from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, quoting Arun Chaudhary’s statement, revealed, “It seems that the Chowdhury family has already tried to influence the owners and employees of the Bansbari Leather and Shoe Factory, portraying the factory as continuously losing money, urging them to sell the land to compensate for the losses, and subsequently acquiring said land.”

Meanwhile, Binod Chaudhary countered the accusations, claiming that he purchased Bansbari shares lawfully through a secret tender.

However, he has not provided evidence to substantiate his claim. He raised concerns that the issue of government land appropriation surfaced during a challenging economic period for the country, asserting, “It is undeniable that this will harm the economy of Nepal and the investment environment of Nepal.”

It should be noted that the CIB analyzed the audit reports of the Accountant General for the years 2044/45 BS and 2045/46 BS during the investigation.

The 2044/45 BS report indicated that the sale and transfer of land by a government-owned factory without the then His Majesty’s Government approval could not be considered regular. This finding was reiterated in the 2045/46 BS report.

Meanwhile, the the statements given to the CIB, Arun Chaudhary expressed readiness to return the land, admitting errors.

In contrast, Binod Chaudhary insists that he legally acquired the shares and questioned the authenticity of the approval process during that time.

Sources, meanwhile, claim that Binod Chaudhary attempted to influence the investigation by exerting pressure on party leadership.

According to a CIB source, the investigation is ongoing even after Arun Chaudhary’s release stating that the investigation has branched out in different dimensions following Arun’s release.

Meanwhile, even as the CIB is gearing up to take a statement from Binod Chaudhary on the issue, he seems to be employing various tactics to avoid providing a statement to the CIB, claiming he will not cooperate under any circumstances.

As the CIB has carried out investigation on Binod Chaudhary’s involvement in the land grab, it has discovered documents indicating his shareholding alongside Arun Chaudhary in Champion Footwear.

The CIB has prepared a statement after presenting additional evidence to Binod Chaudhary.

According to a high-ranking police official, Binod Choudhary’s statement is crucial for the investigation; it cannot be concluded without his input.

However, Binod Chaudhary is allegedly pressuring not only political entities and power centers but also former police chiefs and administrators to halt the process.

Caught in the investigation’s scope, Binod Chaudhary also utilized his influence to secure his brother Arun’s release.

Judge Yagya Prasad Acharya, who ordered Arun’s release within two days, was subsequently transferred to Mugu District Court as per the Supreme Court’s action.

After Arun’s release, Binod reportedly flew to New Delhi, India, for international lobbying. Sources claim Chaudhary spent several days there attempting to influence the investigation against him in Nepal.

The Bansbari Land Case faced additional complexities after the judge who released Arun Chaudhary faced departmental action.

Publish Date : 21 March 2024 09:10 AM

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