Makwanpur LRO approves sale of frozen land

Land Revenue Office (LRO), Makawanpur, has allowed selling land belonging to a blacklisted bank loan defaulter although the government has frozen the land.

The 20-kattha land at Basamadi, belonging blacklisted Bhismaman Shrestha, chief of Harati Wire Industries, was sold to Rabindra Shrestha Malla and Shyam Sunder Agrawal.

Bhismaman had put up the land as collateral at Nepal Bangladesh Bank (NBB). But the LRO released the land from NBB on Jan. 26 and transferred the ownership to Malla and Agrawal. On Feb. 12 2007, the government had decided to seize Bhismaman’s passport, and freeze his movable and immovable assets. It was also decided that his investment in government securities would be seized and used for loan repayment.

The Cabinet decision on Feb 18, 2007 had also decided to prevent banks from making payments to him; take control of his money put in bank lockers; seize and auction the shares of his family members; and stop debit/credit card facility.

The Ministry of Land Reform and Management has issued a circular to all the offices to comply with the government decision on Feb 25, 2007.

The Department of Land Reform and Management (DoLRM) has admitted that land ownership was transferred against the departmental and NRB circular. “The ministry has initiated action against those responsible,” said Jit Bahadur Thapa, director general of the department.

According to a ministry source, Chief Land Revenue Officer Krishna Prasad Adhikari, Land Revenue Officers Dambar Sunuwar and Ram Chandra Bhandari and Kharidar Chandra Prakash Shrestha are directly involved in this act.

Harati Wire has more than Rs 80 million to be paid to the Lumbini Bank. Although the land was put up as collateral at NBB, Lumbini approved loan to Bhismaman on condition that the collateral would be handed over to Lumbini after being released by NBB. However, on Jan 24, the LRO had faxed the bank saying that the land could not be put up as collateral at both banks. A day after receiving the fax from LRO, Lumbini’s Hetauda branch manager had told the LRO that it would not be illegal to transfer collateral from a bank to another after being released by the previous bank.

“The land’s ownership was transferred to another person although we informed LRO officials that the land was frozen by the government,” said a Lumbini official. Earlier, Debt Recovery Tribunal had issued an order that Lumbini could recover its loans from other assets of Bhismaman, as existing collateral is insufficient.

The department had sought clarification from LRO after the bank complained about the land transfer. Land Revenue Officer Sunuwar had replied that there was no record of the government’s circular with LRO, Makawanpur. But a probe committee assigned by the department found that all documents were there at LRO.

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