Hong Kong-based casino operator Silver Heritage Group has found itself locked in a legal battle in Nepal after it cut ties with one of its local partners, news outlet The Kathmandu Post reports.
Silver Heritage owns and operates two casinos in Nepal – The Millionaire’s Club & Casino at Hotel Shangri La in the capital and the recently opened Tiger Palace casino resort in Bhairahawa. The Hong Kong company controls its Nepalese operations through Silver Heritage Management Services Kathmandu Pvt Ltd.
Up until February, Rajendra Bajgain served as Director at the entity and as Silver Heritage’s local partner. The Hong Kong casino operator decided to remove Mr. Bajgain from his post in February. In the company’s annual financial report, released late last week, Chairman David Green explained that the decision to dismiss Mr. Bajgain was made after the latter “embarked on a series of actions” to bring the casino gaming group into disrepute.
Tiger Palace officially opened doors on March 17 after multiple delays due to funding issues and regulatory hurdles. It was not before late 2017 that Silver Heritage finally received a license from Nepalese regulators to operate casino gaming at its new resort.
Foreign Workers at the Core of the Legal Dispute
Silver Heritage moved to terminate Mr. Bajgain’s contract after the latter’s claims that 22 foreign staff members at Tiger Palace were working without the necessary permits. Of them, 17 left Nepal shortly after the claims emerged. The departure of 17 Tiger Palace staff members was confirmed by Nepali immigration officials. However, no evidence was found to support the claims that they were working illegally at the casino resort.
Mr. Bajgain brought the matter to the Kathmandu District Court, asking to have the Silver Heritage decision reversed. The court sided with the former director at the company’s Nepali unit. Silver Heritage appealed the decision in the Patan High Court.
Nepal’s Department of Immigration launched a probe into Mr. Bajgain’s claims. It is understood that a three-member panel conducted an on-site investigation and talked to five foreign officials working at Tiger Palace. All five of them had been granted a “gratis visa”, which is issued to diplomats and business executives working in Nepal.
An immigration official told local media that there were indeed five officials who were sent by Silver Heritage to work at Tiger Palace, but the Immigration Department was yet to discover whether they had their salaries deposited within Nepal. If it turns out that the salaries of any of the five officials are deposited in Hong Kong, that would mean that Silver Heritage is violating Nepalese regulations.
Obtaining a work permit in Nepal is a lengthy process. As explained by an immigration official, foreigners who are hired in Nepal-based companies are first granted a tourist visa for a period of 150 days, during which they can apply for a work permit. The official further pointed out that proposals have emerged for foreign workers to be able to process their work permit from abroad so that they can start working legally in Nepal from the day of their arrival.
*Images courtesy of the Silver Heritage Group