Police have completed investigating an audio tape which had surfaced on social media following the Bhutanese Refugee Scam. In the leaked audio tape, it was alleged Sandesh Sharma of Dang, who has been arrested, and is in custody for his involvement in the fake refugee scam had been heard saying “he had handed over NRS 25 million to Arzu Rana, lawmaker and wife of NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, and an additional NRS 60 million to Manju Khand, wife of former Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand”.

Following the leaked tape, lawmaker Arzu Rana had filed a complaint with the Cyber Bureau at Bhotahity requesting further and complete investigation of the audio tape.

Police on 9th July, 2023 said they investigated the voice sample of 34 year old Sandesh Sharma, a permanent resident of Tulsipur sub-metropolitan city with the “control sample” via the Speakers Identification Traits match, and the recorded audio matched with the defendant. Police said they have sent a request to TikTok Singapore requesting further information to ascertain where the video originated from.

What is the Bhutanese refugee scam?

First broken by Devendra Bhattarai of Kantipur, the Bhutanese refugee scam is an explosive investigative journalism report which exposed Nepal’s politicians and authorities involvement in a scam to send Nepalis to the US as fake Bhutanese refugees.

A total of 875 Nepalis were reportedly scammed by syndicate members who charged them between 1 million rupees to 5 million rupees to provide fake refugee documents. Their names were reportedly added to a 2019 government report which was being drafted to solve issues relating to the remaining Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

As an investigation unfolded following the news report, several top tier politicians were linked to the scam which included former ministers Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Bal Krishna Khand, security advisor to former home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, secretary Tek Narayan Pandey.

After around two months of investigation, police submitted the report with a recommendation to prosecute 33 people involved in the scam.

So far, the police have arrested 16 alleged perpetrators while 17 others, including Prateek Thapa, son of former Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, have been listed as fugitives in the report.