Three senior officials dragged to courtCommission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday dragged seven people, including three senior government officials and four private suppliers, on charge of misusing millions from the state coffers.
In the first ever corruption case concerning supply of emergency logistics meant for survivors of the devastating April 25 earthquake, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday dragged seven people, including three senior government officials and four private suppliers, on charge of misusing millions from the state coffers.
Under-secretaries at the ministry Homnath Bhattarai and Ram Krishna Guragain and storekeeper Yubaraj Giri have been charged for embezzling Rs 23,676,191 by awarding faulty contracts and inflating prices. Secretary at the ministry Arjun Kumar Karki, Joint-secretary Shambhu KC and Senior Division Engineer Nilam Kumar Dangol and accounts chief Narayan Niraula faced departmental action for their involvement in the “improper conduct”.
Hansaram Pandey, an official at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has also been dragged to the court on the charge of assisting suppliers with fake invoices with inflated prices with the intent of causing loss to the state coffers while purchasing tarpaulin sheets during emergency.
Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka, who had also been accused of being involved in irregularities, received a clean chit from the anti-graft body though. The CIAA said there were no evidence to suggest the involvement of Minister Khadka and Secretary Karki in the case.
When asked why those at top of political and bureaucratic echelon were spared in the corruption case, DSP Madhav Khatri, the lead investigator of the tent scam said, “None of the accused blamed big fish.”
Members of the Parliamentary Account Committee have demanded stringent action against Minister Khadka and Secretary Karki, on charge of irregularities on purchase and distribution of tents and tarpaulin sheets meant for earthquake survivors.
“Continuing with its previous trend, CIAA has booked only junior level officials this time and let those involved in policy level decisions off the hook,” said PAC member Ram Hari Khatiwada.
Khatiwada demanded a prompt investigation into alleged irregularities during rescue operations run by Home Ministry officials.
“Home Ministry has no records about the number of helicopters used on rescue operations and details of flight hours. A huge amount of budget has been misused in the name of rescue operations,” he said. The CIAA has taken up the tent scam after the PAC and National Vigilance Centre suggested massive irregularities in the procurement of tents and tarpaulin sheets.
In the chargesheet, the anti-graft body has mentioned that huge price disparities even for tents and tarpaulins of same make and sizes, collusion between the government officials and tent suppliers, leading to a huge loss to the state coffers.
In the chargesheet, the CIAA has said mentioned that 31,199 tarpaulin sheets were distributed without receipts with more than 2,300 tents and tarpaulins being distributed to individuals close to ministry officials. Having gobbled up Rs 2,36,76,191 on the purchase of 27,000 tarpaulin sheets in the first lot, the Urban Development Ministry bought more than 452,000 tents and tarpaulin sheets by colluding among suppliers, private companies and government officials, it states.
Pointing to faulty contracts, the CIAA has asked the government not to make payment to the suppliers. It has also filed a chargesheet at the Special Court against tent suppliers Deepkiran Enterprises, Mata Enterprises, Lucky SA Enterprises and Ajay Shuva Traders on charge of producing fake documents with intent to cause loss to the state coffers. The CIAA has sought Rs 2,36,76,191 in damaged from four suppliers.
The CIAA has been investigating into alleged involvement of Ramesh Mahat, the then personal secretary of Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, and a number of NGOs and humanitarian organisations involved in rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of earthquake over the misuse of logistics meant for quake survivors.
CIAA charge sheet
- CIAA seeks Rs 23.8m in damages from the accused
- Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka gets clean chit
- Urban Development Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki, Joint-secretary Shambhu KC, SDE Nilam Kumar Dangol and accounts chief Narayan Niraula face departmental actions
- Suppliers Deepkiran Enterprises, Mata Enterprises, Lucky SA Enterprises and Ajay Shuva Traders dragged to court on charge of forging documents