Two Mobile Wallet Companies Implicated in Gold Smuggling, Hundi, and Crypto Payments

The Nepal Rastra Bank has suspended the operations of two mobile wallet companies, Pay Well Nepal and Easy Pay Wallet, following allegations of their involvement in the illegal payment of gold smuggling activities. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CIB) of Nepal Police uncovered that these companies facilitated payments for gold smuggling through Hundi and also supported crypto transactions.

The suspension came into effect on Monday after CIB’s investigation revealed significant misuse of these wallets in illegal transactions. The Nepal Rastra Bank announced, “As the transactions of the payment service providers Pay Well Nepal Pvt. Ltd., Anamnagar Kathmandu and Easy Payment Services Pvt. Ltd., Baluwatar Kathmandu are under investigation related to regulatory compliance, the accounts of the appropriate institutions in banks and financial institutions will be suspended until further decision.”

Detailed Investigation Unfolds

CIB arrested nine individuals involved in smuggling gold hidden in brake shoes. Further investigation confirmed that the two mobile wallet companies were repeatedly used by the accused for illegal transactions, bypassing Nepal Rastra Bank’s regulations. The transactions, disguised as internal remittances, included loading balances into wallets.

A senior CIB official commented, “It was seen that gold smuggling money is transacted through Hundi and Crypto. It seems that one person transacted crores of rupees through mobile wallets.”

These companies were found violating rules by conducting business beyond their authorized scope, including internal remittance services, which they used to facilitate Hundi payments from abroad.

Rastra Bank’s Response

The Nepal Rastra Bank suspended the accounts after confirming non-compliance during their supervision. Gunakar Bhatt, the spokesperson for Nepal Rastra Bank, stated, “During the supervision, it was seen that the platforms of these two companies were used in suspicious transactions. We are also coordinating with the police on this matter. If the collusion of the company is confirmed, the license may be revoked.”

Gold Smuggling Network

CIB’s investigation revealed that a Chinese-led gang had smuggled approximately 2,831 kg of gold over the past year, with funds channeled abroad through Hundi and crypto transactions. This network also facilitated the transfer of money for Nepalese abroad back to Nepal via mobile wallets.

The ongoing investigation focuses on both the smuggling gang and the local groups involved in buying and selling gold within Nepal. The CIB is scrutinizing the financial transactions and operations of these groups, aiming to dismantle the entire network.

Ongoing Investigation

The CIB is currently investigating nine individuals in custody for organized crime and customs evasion. The group’s modus operandi involved exploiting weaknesses in the banking system to trade smuggled money.

Last year, around 61 kg of gold smuggled through the airport and hidden in brake shoes was recovered, leading to the discovery of a larger smuggling network. In August 2022, CIB had filed charges against 29 individuals for smuggling 362 kg of gold, of which 60 kg 716 grams were recovered. Detailed investigations have confirmed that over 2,800 kg of gold was smuggled using various methods, including hiding gold in brake shoes, water pumps, smartwatches, and electric saving machines.

Official Statement

Dr. Gunakar Bhatt, spokesperson for Nepal Rastra Bank, said, “In the initial investigation, two payment companies, Pay Well and Easy Pay, were found to have misused the platform, so we have suspended the accounts for a detailed investigation to prevent further misuse. We are coordinating with the police on this matter. If the company’s collusion in illegal transactions is confirmed, their licenses may be canceled.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *