Chinese nationals involved in ATM fraud in Nepal; Kathmandu raises issue with Beijing

New DelhiWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Sep 19, 2019, 02:16 PM IST

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (file photo). Photograph:(AFP)

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The Nepal Electronic Payment Systems was hacked by the Chinese who had arrived in the country on August 30 and had planned to leave on September 30.

Nepal has officially raised the matter with Beijing of Chinese nationals involved in a massive ATM hacking scandal that duped Nepali banks of millions of rupees.

On August 31, five Chinese nationals in Nepal in a coordinated action carried out fraud by tampering with ATM switch that links Nepal Electronic Payment System(NEPS) to eleven Nepali banks and was able to withdraw a large amount of cash illegally.

The Nepal Electronic Payment Systems (NEPS) was hacked by the Chinese who had arrived in the country on August 30 and had planned to leave on September 30.

The Nepali foreign ministry officials briefed their Chinese counterpart about the involvement of Chinese in one of the biggest scams country and communicated to them that such kind of incidents could send out a very bad image for its northern neighbour.

Foreign ministry officials along with Nepali finance ministry briefed Chinese officials of the nature of crime and the mechanism used by conspirators for the theft. They warned any such future incident like this could majorly impact Chinese business interest in Nepal.

The Nepal Rastra Bank(NRB), the central bank of Nepal had conveyed a special meeting of all Nepali banks to discuss the issue on September 9 and 10. The matter was to be raised with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during his visit to the country earlier this month but Nepal officials decided not to raise the issue at the end moment to avoid embarrassment. The Chinese foreign minister was on a visit to China from September 8 to 10.

Approximately Rs 34.5 million(Nepali) was withdrawn illegally including 10.5 million(INR) from India according to Bam Bahadur Mishra, chief of the Payment Systems Department at Nepal Rastra Bank as quoted by local media.

The incident has raised eyebrows internationally as well and the way criminals were able to find loopholes in the electronic financial systems of Nepal.

Though there have been previous cases of ATM hacking in Nepal, including in 2017 involving NIC Asia Bank. This is one of the largest electronic financial fraud that has come to light in the south Asian country in recent years.