Nepal to close down casinos for tax defaults

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Kathmandu, Feb 15 (PTI) The government has started theprocess to close down casinos in Nepal that attracts thousandsof foreign tourists, mostly Indians, after recommendationsfrom the finance ministry for tax evasions.

Nepal''s Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation(MoTCA), which issues operating licences, is preparing to takeaction against eight casinos following recommendation fromDepartment of Revenue Investigation (DRI).

"We have started necessary procedures to take actionagainst the casinos," Laxman Bhattarai, spokesperson of MoTCA,was quoted as saying by the Republica newspaper today afterthe ministry received DRI�s letter.

The tax investigators recommended the termination ofthe operating licences amid the reluctance of casino operatorsto pay royalty dues.

"We have recommended the tourism ministry revoke thelicences of eight casinos that have failed to pay the duesworth 30 million rupees (4.9 million)," an official of theDRI said.

The failure of the casinos to clear tax liabilitieswithin the 35-day deadline, which expired on Friday, forcedthe DRI to move against the casinos, the report said.

Even though gambling is illegal in Nepal, eight hotelsin the capital and two in the popular tourist town of Pokhararun casinos under special government permits that bars localpeople.

DRI started the investigation as per the directive ofthe Public Accounts Committee of parliament.

The DRI has asked the MoTCA to take action againstCasino Rad, Casino Venus, Casino Grand, Royal Casino, AnnaCasino, Casino Shangri-La, Fulbari Casino and Casino Nepal.

The MoTCA has also prepared a draft regulation tostreamline licensing process of casinos as per the directivesof the PAC.

Presently, only five-star hotels are entitled tooperate casinos on their premises. According to the new draft,licenses would be granted to casinos, not to the hotels as iscurrently practiced to run gambling, nepalnews online said.

Last year, Nepal police had arrested the generalmanager of a casino owned by an Indian national for failing topay crores of rupees in royalty and taxes and allowinggambling by Nepalese nationals.

Manoj Kumar Subedi, general manager of Casino Tara,operated by Indian "Casino King" Rakesh Wadhwa was arrestedfrom the casino at Hotel Hyatt Regency at Bouddha on theoutskirt of the capital. PTI

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