Sat, 08 Aug 2020

Kathmandu [Nepal], July 13 (ANI): China uses corrupt leaders of economically weak countries to make inroads into those nations- Nepal being a case in point, suggests a report in Global Watch Analysis.

Roland Jacquard, the author of the article, explains that "this enables Chinese companies to not only further their business interests in that country but the Chinese State to surreptitiously penetrate the nation's polity, with the objective to ensure its long-term influence."The report alleges that Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's personal wealth has increased over the years, which he, the leader of Nepal's Communist Party, has allegedly stashed abroad.

"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," writes Jacquard, adding that the account has USD 5.5 million, invested in long-term deposits and shares, yielding Oli and his wife Radhika Sakya half a million dollars every year.

Jacquard elucidates with examples of corruption charges against Oli in form of business dealings clinched with the help of Chinese.

During Oli's first stint as Nepal's 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."The deal was allegedly finalised by Ang Shering Sherpa a Nepali businessman, who was a close confidante of Oli, and "with the intervention of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and facilitation by top Chinese diplomat in Phnom Penh, Bo Jiangeo."Similar corruption allegations continued to make their way into Oli's second term.

Even as he was the Prime Minister, Oli circumvented government's regulations in order to award projects to Chinese companies.

In December 2018, a contract to set up a 'Digital Action Room' was given to Chinese telecom company Huawei "without a competitive bid" despite government-owned Nepal Telecommunication having the expertise to create such facility.

"Later investigations indicated that Prime Minister's Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal's son had pushed for this deal in return for financial gains," the report alleges.

The author also highlights another case of a project being given to Chinese company without any discussion. In May 2019, Nepal Telecommunication signed an agreement with Hong Kong-based China Communication Service for developing radio access network and another with China's telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE for installing the core 4G network for Nepal Telecommunication. The project is worth around Nepalese Rupees (NR) 19 billion or around Euro 130 million.

In June, student protests broke out in Nepal against Oli's regime for poor handling of coronavirus pandemic, over alleged corruption in purchase of Chinese-made personnel protective gear, testing equipment, many of which were found to be defective and over-priced.

"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," states Global Watch Analysis.

Two investigations are already underway into accusations of Nepal's Health Minister and several other senior advisers in Oli's inner coterie taking bribes for purchase of medical equipment.

In such a situation, while "China steadily makes inroads in Nepal, the rampant corruption offers a win-win situation of KP Sharma Oli and his Chines benefactors." (ANI)

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