– ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Embattled Nepali Ambassador to Australia, Lucky Sherpa, returned to Kathmandu from Canberra on Wednesday, with her family members, in an indication that her tenure as envoy has now come to an end.Sherpa’s tenure at the Nepali Embassy in Australia had become untenable after her former driver Wongchhu Sherpa accused her of taking money from Nepalis to smuggle them into Australia. Following the allegations, the Foreign Ministry in December first week had summoned her to Kathmandu to launch a probe.
Sherpa has refuted charges levelled against her as plot to defame her and claimed that she is innocent and that she is not involved in any wrongdoing.
Two foreign ministry officials confirmed to the Post that Sherpa has returned from Canberra after wrapping up personal affairs.
As the probe into allegations continued in Kathmandu, conflicting reports had come about her, with some sources claiming that she had put in her papers, and others saying the matter was in status quo.
When Sherpa left for Canberra two weeks ago, it was largely viewed as her last visit to Australia in the capacity of an envoy.
But sources told the Post that during her stay in Canberra Sherpa did not go to office even once. Nor did she perform any duty in the capacity of the ambassador.
She even did not pay farewell calls to Australian officials, a customary practice before any ambassador leaves the host country after completing the term—or when recalled prematurely.
Even the Foreign Ministry has not disclosed her status to the Nepali Embassy in Canberra—whether she was removed or she was going to put in her papers later in Kathmandu.
Amid growing pressure to step down, as per the directives from the top political level, she was told to pack up and move from the Australian capital.
Various officials the Post talked to said it would not have been wise to remove her from the post or ask her to step down when she was in Kathmandu as part of an investigation into the charges she was facing. That is why she was told to make a final visit to Canberra and return, a Foreign Ministry official told the Post requesting anonymity.
A report submitted by a panel of three Foreign Ministry joint secretaries formed to investigate into the charges levelled by Sherpa’s driver had suggested that the government should not continue her as the ambassador, as she had failed to provide convincing evidence to prove her innocence.
Wongchhu, who was reportedly fired from his job last November, had claimed in a television interview that he was ordered by the Sherpa couple to collect money from several individuals in Nepal in return for a safe passage to Australia.
Wongchhu also said that he has a recording of a phone conversation between him and the ambassador to corroborate his claim.
Sherpa was picked as Nepal’s envoy to Australia under the Maoist party quota.