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Nepalese envoy refutes allegations of irregularities.

Summary: RIYADH: Hamid Ansari, Nepal's outgoing ambassador to the Kingdom, has refuted allegations of any misappropriation of embassy funds and compensation money for dead Nepali workers.

By ARAB NEWS

Ansari said that the compensation amount received by the embassy for all dead Nepali workers is regularly sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Katmandu.

Ansari, who gave Arab News a copy of bank statements and documents showing the remittance of money, contradicted the reports of his complicity in stealing compensation money.

Ansari was recalled by Katmandu earlier this month following allegations of irregularities with regard to compensation money and misuse of power and authority during his tenure as ambassador in Riyadh.

But the envoy was surprised to find his name being dragged in the controversy, as he is alleged to have been instrumental in collecting and remitting SR2.7 million in blood money. This money -- for 599 Nepali workers who died in 2008, 2009 and 2010 -- was sent to Nepal in a staggered schedule as and when the compensation amount was received by the embassy.

Referring to the allegations and his tireless efforts to help Nepali workers in Saudi Arabia, the envoy said: "I have each and every evidence to claim that nobody was able to send such a big amount for the families of deceased workers C* There is a separate account for death cases under the name of the embassy -- NCB Bank Account No. 23755792000208 -- in which outstanding dues of deceased workers is deposited and then sent to Nepal."

He added that he has already deposited and sent the compensation money to Nepal, which was received for four dead Nepalis and mentioned in Nepalese and Saudi media.

"In the first case of the death of Ramesh Subedi, a Nepali driver working for Mohammed Fahad Al-Subaiey Est., the embassy deposited SR100,000 in the NCB account on Jan. 16 this year after I received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Katmandu," said Ansari, adding that the remittance in this case was delayed because of the nature of the compensation amount.

"In fact, 40 percent of the blood money for Subedi was to be given to the lawyer, another 40 percent to be given for repairing the Mercedes Benz truck driven by the worker and 20 percent to be remitted to Subedi's wife Kabita Subedi," said the envoy.

"In the second case of the death of Harkha Bahadur Karki, I would like to clarify that the compensation of SR14,071 was already remitted to Nepal and was never deposited in my personal account," he added.

He pointed out that a compensation amount of SR30,000 in the case of Kamal Ghimire was sent to the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "This was also not deposited in my personal account," said Ansari, adding that the fourth case involves the death of Sant Lal Tamang of Lalitpur district. "In this case, the Nepalese Embassy has already sent the due amount of SR3,911 to Nepal, while the embassy is following up with the General Organization for Social Insurance to release the blood money," he added.

Asked about the seriousness of the allegations, which according to him are concocted and led to his recall by the Nepalese government, Ansari said, "I can show my both bank accounts at the Samba bank to any official to ensure that I never deposited any single riyal of any worker in my personal accounts during my tenure as ambassador ... Only the delay in paying the money to Subedi's legal hire cannot challenge my honesty and my pious mission to work for my people."

Whenever the embassy receives compensation money, it is deposited in the death case account of the NCB and then sent to Nepal. But due to a shortage of employees at the embassy, there is always a chance of delay.

Asked about the reasons behind his recall if there are no financial irregularities, Ansari said, "A section of Nepali politicians and some Muslim organizations in Nepal were against my nomination as ambassador from the very beginning. They have been playing this nasty game against me."

He added that consular staff and labor attaches are less experienced in solving labor problems. "So, in many cases, when there was urgent need of rescue and relief for our workers trapped somewhere or harassed by companies, I myself have to work," he said.

"Despite my efforts and goodwill, I could not arrange an official visit for the Nepalese prime minister and labor minister to the Kingdom because their counterparts were very busy at the time that they wanted to visit. When I arranged an official visit for the labor minister, Aftab Alam, he couldn't manage to come and became furious. He preferred to go to South Korea because he had to sign a memorandum of understanding. These factors annoyed the officials back home," said Ansari, adding that the Nepalese Cabinet decided to recall him without giving him an opportunity to clarify his position.

Copyright: Arab News 2011 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:9NEPA
Date:Feb 14, 2011
Words:842
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