More skeletons tumble out of Nepal’s casino industry

August 1st, 2011 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 1 (IANS) After intrigues, double-cross and illegal activities made Nepal’s multi-billion rupee casino industry, the oldest in South Asia, a disreputable sector facing dissolution, a new skeleton has surfaced with the arrest of one of the top hoteliers in the country for fraud.

Piyush Bahadur Amatya, owner of the plush Fulbari resort in Pokhara city, a prime tourist destination outside Kathmandu Valley, was arrested Sunday after complaints by his former business partners that he had defrauded them of over NRS 40 million in the name of giving them shares in a casino.

Amatya, who is also the sole dealer for Mitsubishi vehicles in Nepal, was said to have opened a company, Fishtail Gaming, with the avowed aim of running the casino in Fulbari.

However, when Fishtail failed to obtain a licence to run the casino, Amatya refused to return the money.

One of the richest men in Nepal, the entrepreneur who also owns a brewery and an ice-cream company, has friends in high places and enjoyed immunity though he defaulted in repaying bank loans running into millions.

Amatya’s arrest is the latest scandal erupting over Nepal’s 10 casinos, whose status remains shrouded in mystery.

Eight of these casinos earlier belonged to Indian entrepreneur Rakesh Wadhwa, who fled Nepal after failing to clear government dues and employees’ salaries.

Since then, several new groups have come forward to stake claim on an industry that police and lawmakers blame for rising crimes in the capital.

Several arrested criminals, like a school teacher who murdered his former student and a renegade army soldier who kidnapped an American tourist, were found to have resorted to crime to repay the IOUs they had run up at the casinos.

Nepal’s parliament has asked the government to shift the casinos from Kathmandu but with the government facing uncertainty, the order has not been implemented.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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