Nepalese taxmen have raided Tiger Palace Casino Resort in Bhairahawa over the weekend following reports that the integrated resort is illegally selling alcoholic beverage to its clientele.
The Kathmandu Post reported that Tiger Palace, operated by Australia-listed casino operator Silver Heritage Group, had repeatedly dismissed warnings of Nepal’s Inland Revenue Office (IRO) to obtain a license before selling alcoholic beverages in the casino area of the five-star gambling facility.
Nepalese officials claimed that Tiger Palace is only permitted to sell such beverages in the resort areas, not on the casino floor. Joint elements of IRO and local police seized 121 bottles of liquor worth Rs300, 000 ($2,000).
If found guilty of violating the law, IRO said legal action would be taken against casino operators.
Silver Heritage has been embroiled in controversies left and right since it opened the doors of its $51.8 million integrated resort.
In March, ex-Silver Heritage consultant Rajendra Bajgain accused the casino operator of hiring 22 foreign nationals in Tiger Palace without securing the necessary working permits from the government.
Under Nepal’s labor code, foreigners who want to work in the country are issued with tourist visas that are valid for 150 days. Within the period, foreigners may be able to apply for a working visa.
The allegations against the Australian gambling company surfaced after Silver Heritage Limited Management Service, Kathmandu severed its ties with Bajgain in February.
Acting on Bajgain’s complaint, Nepal’s Immigration Department formed a three-member panel that will investigate the alleged illegal labor practices.The panel, led by Immigration Undersecretary Raju Prasad Poudel, recently conducted a surprise inspection in Tiger Palace, interviewed the integrated resort’s top officials, and submitted its report to the Immigration Department.
Last week, Silver Heritage announced before the Australian Stock Exchange that it is seeking an out-of-court settlement with Bajgain, who owns 5 percent of a local entity that holds Tiger Palace’s gaming license.
Silver Heritage has expressed confidence that its decision to cut its ties with Bajgain will be declared valid by the high tribunal.
“The company has agreed with Mr. Bajgain to continue on-going discussions to settle the disputes between the parties without the need for further Court actions,” the casino operator said in a statement. “[The company] believes that it will ultimately prevail when the substantive issues are ventilated before the Court.”