Distortion from the principle of cooperatives and political patronage is going to cost common people their lives’ hard earned savings in some 130 cooperatives.

A high-level investigation commission today said that a total of Rs 9.63 billion – deposit worth Rs 7.25 billion and interest – with some 130 troubled cooperatives is at risk.

According to commission’s chairman Gauri Bahadur Karki, among the 130 cooperatives, Oriental Cooperative – of the notorious Sudhir Basnet – has the largest liability worth more than Rs 6 billion, including Rs 3.43 in its Kathmandu office. Oriental had offices in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Pokhara, Syangja, Biratnagar and Parsa.

The probe commission had received a total of 12,461complaints and among them some 11,286 complaints are against Oriental.

Tara Devi Dhakal of Damak in Jhapa with Rs 190 million deposit is the largest depositor of Oriental Cooperative.

Against the norms of cooperatives, Basnet had invested Oriental cooperatives deposits into his housing projects that could not be completed due to a recession in the real estate sector for past couple of years.

The commission has also formed a sub-committee including depositors.

The commission has been interrogating operators of 35 cooperatives.

But most of the cooperators have ignored the commission’s summons and the commission has asked the police to detain them, Karki said.

However, political patronage has made it difficult for the commission to take any action against the fraud cooperatives. Some of the political parties – mostly the leftists or the communists – have been patronising the cooperatives despite their deviation from the core norms, which has put the people’s hard earned savings at risk, apart from promoting financial indiscipline. These political bigwigs have been lobbying not to bring cooperatives under regulatory framework, which could have ensured systemic safety.

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