Errant manpower firms under govt scanner

The government has started investigating the recruitment firms that have come under its radar for their involvement in illicit activities.

The Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DoMLI) and Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) recently exchanged a memorandum of understanding for the purpose.

“A number of manpower companies have been found to be conducting suspicious transactions — among the recruitment firms while receiving payment from service seekers and getting money from anonymous sources,” said Bholanath Guragain, director of DoFE, adding the government has already started cracking down on suspicious manpower agencies and its owners.

As per Guragain, the investigations are being jointly carried out by DoFE and DoMLI.

“The joint mission will help track the trail of money,” said an official from DoMLI seeking anonymity, adding that they have already flagged a few manpower firms that they suspect could be engaged in money laundering activities.

While the government has set the ceiling for service fee from migrant workers at Rs 10,000, the recruitment firms are reportedly charging them many times more but providing them with a bill of only Rs 10,000, Guragain informed.

“On one hand, migrant workers are being overcharged by such manpower agencies, while on the other, the government is losing billions of rupees in revenue as there is no record of such under-the-table transactions,” the DoMLI official stated, adding that the practice needs to be stopped as soon as possible.

“As per our information, the number of such illegal transactions is increasing and hundi system is being promoted massively,” the official said.

A few days ago, the Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) also launched an operation against manpower companies that fail to disclose the sources of their income.

The DRI had raided the office of Sky Overseas Pvt Ltd and found that the company had committed tax fraud worth Rs 60 million. The DRI has filed a case against the firm and its owner Bal Bahadur Tamang, who is a former president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, at the Kathmandu District Court, seeking a total of Rs 195.7 million — a sum of the principal amount and interest incurred.

Published: 11 August 2019/ The Himalayan Times

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