December 24, 2019 / 5:06 AM / a month ago

Nepal detains 122 Chinese for suspected cyber crime and bank fraud

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Police in Nepal have detained 122 Chinese men and women in its biggest crackdown on crime by foreigners entering the country on tourist visas, officials said on Tuesday.

A detained Chinese man reacts towards the media as he walks into the police station in Kathmandu, Nepal December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

The chief of police in the capital Kathmandu said the suspects were rounded up in raids on Monday following information that they were engaged in suspicious activities.

The Chinese are suspected of cyber crime and hacking into bank cash machines, the police chief, Uttam Subedi, said, adding that they were being held in different police stations and their passports and laptops had been seized.

“This is the first time that so many foreigners have been detained for suspected criminal activities,” he said.

Another senior police officer, Hobindra Bogati, said the Chinese embassy knew about the raids and had supported the detentions.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Chinese and Nepali police had cooperated on the case and China was willing to increase law-enforcement cooperation with its neighbour.

Chinese people are regularly detained in Asian countries on suspicion of involvement in various illegal activities, often involving fraud back in China.

Last week, authorities in the Philippines arrested 342 Chinese workers in a raid on an unlicensed gambling operation.

In September, police arrested five Chinese nationals on a charge of stealing money by hacking bank cash machines. Chinese citizens were also arrested with smuggled gold this year.

Nepal and China signed a treaty on mutual assistance in criminal matters during a visit to Nepal by President Xi Jinping in October.

China has been increasing its investment in Nepal in recent years in areas such as roads, power plants and hospitals.

More than 134,000 Chinese tourists visited Nepal between January and October this year, up 9.2 percent from the same period in 2018, according to Nepal Tourism Board data.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Robert Birsel and David Clarke

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