Kathmandu, August 1
An Australian national of Nepali origin was among five persons arrested in money laundering case last month.
Australian authorities arrested Bipin Thapa, 29, along with Gagandeep Pahwa, 30, and his partner Gopali Dahal, 30, from Sydney on July 11. While Nitin Kapila, 30, was arrested on July 19, Manminder Singh, 31, was nabbed on July 22, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
Those arrested have been charged with participating in a $100 million money laundering syndicate linked to organised crime. During the raids, investigators seized around $400,000 in cash, money counting machines, three vehicles and designer clothing.
They were targeted over their alleged role in using Assure Protection Services, a security business based in South Western Sydney, led by Pahwa as a ‘front’ to launder money in and out of the hands of organised criminals in Australia and abroad. The security firm based at Woodville Rd, Guildford, is a semi-legitimate business that allegedly accepted cash from organised crime groups, before moving the money through additional transactions and withdrawing it to be passed back to other criminal syndicates, according to the report.
Thapa has been working as an accountant at Assure Protection Services for the past nine months, according to representatives of Non-resident Nepalese Association, Australia. Thapa, who migrated to Australia as a student around a decade ago, has already acquired an Australian passport. He is married and has a kid, according to NRNA-Australia representative Hemanta Kafle.
Kafle said whether Thapa was involved in the money laundering case or he was just an employee at the company could be known only after the police investigation report was made public. He said the Australian police was looking into the matter seriously given the huge amount of money involved and linkage of the group with organised crime.
The court has also refused bail to those arrested. “A court hearing has been scheduled for September 12. Something substantial will emerge in the case after the hearing,” Kafle told THT over phone. Deputy Chief of Mission at Nepali Embassy in Australia Durapada Sapkota told THT over phone that they would be in a position to comment on the issue only after the police investigations were over.
A version of this article appears in print on August 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.