CIAA files corruption case against under-secretaryBB Airways CEO who is an accused in Lauda lease scam, charged with paying bribes.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Sunday filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Pramod Nepal, under secretary at the tourism ministry, on the charge of receiving graft for licence renewal of an airline company and a paragliding company.
Nepal, who is known for academic excellence and is a recipient of a Tribhuvan University gold medal in economics, was caught red-handed with Rs2.25 million in bribe in early August. He was arrested with Rs600,000 and an additional Rs1.65 million was found in a car he was using.
The commission said in a statement on Sunday that its investigation confirmed that Nepal had received a graft of Rs1.65 million for renewing the licence of BB Airways while he had received Rs600,000 in the process of renewing a paragliding licence. The anti-graft body has sought separate prison sentences and a fine for alleged corruption.
In the alleged corruption associated with BB Airways’ licence renewal, the commission has sought three to six months of jail and a fine of Rs1.65 million for him as per the section 5 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act-2002. And in the paragliding licence case, the anti-graft body has sought up to two years in jail and a fine of Rs600,000 for him as per the section 3 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act-2002.
Nepal was among 12 Nepali scholars who received the prestigious Chevening Scholarship from the British government in 2020. Before he was caught red-handed, it had just been eight months since he returned home from the UK’s Nottingham University and resumed his office work.
Along with the filing of the case, Nepal has been automatically suspended from his job as per the law. “In corruption cases where a person has been caught red-handed, the accused are being convicted in almost all cases,” said Shyam Prasad Bhandari, spokesperson of the anti-graft body.
Besides Nepal, the commission also filed a corruption case against Hari Bhakta Shrestha, chief executive officer of BB Airways for offering bribes to Nepal.
The commission has sought punishment for Shrestha for acting as an accomplice in the alleged corruption.
As per the section 22 of the anti-corruption law, an accomplice is liable to half of the punishment to be imposed on the public servant or any other person. Shrestha is one of the accused in the Lauda Air corruption scam when he was executive chairperson of the then Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation in early 2000s.
In 2007, the Special Court acquitted all the accused in the Lauda Airlines corruption case. But the anti-graft body registered an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Special Court verdict .
The CIAA had accused former aviation minister Tarini Dutta Chataut and some officials of the Nepal Airlines including Shrestha of embezzling Rs389 million while signing an 18-month lease contract for an airbus with Lauda Airlines of Vienna, Austria. The Supreme Court is yet to issue a verdict on the matter.
BB Airways, owned by Bhawan Bhatta, former president of the Non-Resident Nepalis Association, had briefly operated flights in 2012.