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London embassy building sold for peanuts; kickbacks feared

LONDON: While the Nepali community in the United Kingdom, NRN and others concerned had been raising their voice against the sale of Nepalese Embassy building in the heart of London, it has been revealed that it was already sold for much lesser price than the market value.

After it was disclosed that the process lacked fair bidding process and completed behind the closed doors, community leaders alleged that a good deal of bribes could have been resulted in such a hasty and lack of transparent move.

Embassy sources privy to the hush-hush deal told that Nepalese Ambassador DrSuresh Chandra Chalise and Robert McMillan from the buyer company -- Quick Move Property Associates UK -- signed the agreement last week. As per the deal, the company agreed to pay a total of 450 million pounds. Ten percent of the total sum has been paid during the agreement while the company will clear the remaining sum in three installments: 40, 50 per cent in three and six months, respectively, it was agreed.

According to property dealers, the current market value could fetch as much as 700 million pounds for the five-storeyed building located in Kensington Palace Gardens-- the most prime location of London. The attractive building has been filled with ancient art and sculptures, but lacked renovation works since long, reportedly due to lack of funds.

“We are stunned by such a dubious decision to sell the building which has been a sort of monument for all Nepalis living here and also a landmark for the age-old relation between Nepal and the UK,” said Biplav Singh Shrestha, a community leader and NRN council member. “It’s rather sad that our continuous protest against the sale fell on deaf ears eventually.”

“The embassy and government should have consulted all stakeholders before selling the most privileged foreign assets at throwaway prices,” fumed JagannathTripathy, chairman of Tripathy Association UK, alleging that bribes could have prompted such a hasty deal.

“We will protest against the move and also investigate if there are any wrongdoings from the citizen’s level,” he said. “Since our government can’t afford a new building in the prime location like this, it should not have sold it without proper homework.”

Earlier in February, the Nepal Government had constituted a panel headed by Joint Secretary of foreign ministry Ambika Devi Luintel to gear up the sale process, despite the absence of parliament and opposition by many.

When contacted, Nepal’s foreign officials could not be reached for comments.

(Website’s note: Our sincere apology to Rt. Hon.DrChalise, Robert McMillan (if any) and others, if you have fallen prey to our gag. It’s merely a construction by our news team: Happy April Fool’s day!)

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