Charges mount against tainted NAC board member PahadiNepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) board member Achyut Raj Pahadi, who has been accused of committing fraud and irregularities on different occasions, has sunk even deeper in controversy following charges that he acted as a consultant to BB Airways in its attempt to buy a NAC Boeing 757 and sat in the NAC board meeting which approved the sale.
Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) board member Achyut Raj Pahadi, who has been accused of committing fraud and irregularities on different occasions, has sunk even deeper in controversy following charges that he acted as a consultant to BB Airways in its attempt to buy a NAC Boeing 757 and sat in the NAC board meeting which approved the sale.
Pahadi served as a consultant to BB Airways from December 21, 2017 to February 28, 2018, as per a copy of the consulting agreement obtained by the Post, and was paid Rs549,020 for his services. The Boeing 757, named Karnali with registration number 9N-ACA, was sold to the highest bidder Bhawan Bhatta, managing director of BB Airways, for $1.46 million in December 2017.
On July 24, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) asked the Tourism Ministry for details about Pahadi after receiving a complaint of his misconduct. On July 30, the ministry sought clarification from NAC whether its rules allow Pahadi to work in two companies at the same time.
“It has been proved that Pahadi was directly involved in the consultancy service of BB Airways while he was a member of the board at NAC. During his tenure at NAC, Pahadi was involved in a series of ‘serious controversies’ which have been proven. Hence, the management recommends that Pahadi not be kept in such a high post,” NAC said in a clarification letter to its line ministry.
“After NAC’s suggestion on Pahadi’s case, we have sought clarification from Pahadi. He has been given seven days to submit an explanation,” said Prakash Sharma Dhakal, deputy spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry. Pahadi received the ministry’s clarification letter on September 16. “The ministry will decide Pahadi’s fate after receiving his explanation.”
In February 2017, Pahadi was brought back to NAC at the urging of former tourism minister Jeeban Bahadur Shahi to play a more important role as a policy framer at the state-owned airline. During that time, aviation experts and government officials questioned the ministry’s commitment to good governance at NAC following its decision to appoint a controversial figure to the board of the national flag carrier.
In 2014, he was even suspended by the NAC board for six months on the charge of embezzling funds by purchasing Boeing 757 tyres unnecessarily and unreasonably. In 2011, Pahadi, then the chief of the engineering department of NAC, was arrested on suspicion of swindling 23 Indian nationals with fake job promises and jailed for two weeks.
Pahadi had collected hefty amounts from the Indian technicians promising them comfortable jobs at the corporation. Initially, he had denied any involvement and claimed that his signatures on the appointment letters were forged. But a six-member probe committee of the airline declared Pahadi guilty and recommended stern action against him.
In 2011, Pahadi was accused of causing losses of around Rs150 million to NAC following the mysterious disappearance of flyaway kits and the landing gear of its Boeing 757. A high-level committee formed to investigate a series of controversies at NAC, including the unexplained disappearance of aircraft parts, had recommended departmental action against 26 officials including Pahadi.
In November 2014, the CIAA filed a corruption case against Pahadi on the charge of embezzling state funds by purchasing aircraft tyres unnecessarily and unreasonably.
The anti-graft body accused him of purchasing tyres despite the existence of adequate stock, but he was given a clean chit by the Special Court on the case.