Fifa action warms up cold caseHot on the heels of Fifa ban on Anfa President Ganesh Thapa on bribery and corruption charges, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is considering reopening the corruption case against the under fire former football forward.
Hot on the heels of Fifa ban on Anfa President Ganesh Thapa on bribery and corruption charges, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is considering reopening the corruption case against the under fire former football forward.
The national anti-graft body’s move comes after it was subjected to widespread criticism for letting Thapa off hook even as the football’s world governing body booked him for illicit activities.
On November 16, Fifa’s Adjudicatory Chamber of the Independent Ethics Committee of Fifa imposed a 10-year ban from football on Thapa and a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs (approximately Rs 2.1 million).
The CIAA is collecting evidence to establish Thapa’s involvement in corruption, CIAA spokesperson Krishna Hari Pushkar confirmed.
“We are gathering news reports published by international media and other supportive evidence to establish his involvement in corruption,” he said.
Last year, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had directed the government to suspend Thapa, along with three other Anfa officials, for alleged misappropriation of Rs 580 million during his tenure as the head of the country’s football governing body spanning more than two decades.
But in September 2014, the CIAA put Thapa’s case on hold, arguing that it could not gather enough evidence.
Thapa’s suspension comes at a time when corruption in football has been making headlines all over the world. In May, the US Justice Department indicted nine Fifa officials and five sports-marketing executives for “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted” corruption and their “participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer”.
Thapa, who is also a parliamentarian of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal led by his brother, incumbent Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, had also been investigated by the Department of Money Laundering Investigation in August 2012 in a case related to money laundering.
An audit report of the Asian Football Confederation revealed that Gaurav Thapa, Ganesh Thapa’s son, had received $100,000 in his account from Mohamed bin Hammam, former president of the AFC.
Fifa has since banned Hammam from all football-related activities for life. Thapa, however, defended himself by saying that he had “borrowed” money from Hammam for personal use. Thapa has also been accused of doctoring audit reports of Anfa—completely omitting the mention of the Goal Project through which it received $180,000 from Fifa in four phases from 2001 to 2012.
An auditor also found that the company “involved” in the construction of the Satdobato Sports Complex does not even exist.
With the DMLI investigation making little progress, the CIAA is consulting with the legal experts the possibility of launching a separate probe against Thapa on money laundering in the wake of Fifa action, said a highly placed source at the anti-graft body.
“CIAA is collecting evidence to establish corruption charges against Thapa. Legal consultations are also under way to explore ways to file a new case on money laundering,” said the source, admitting that the commission was under pressure to reopen the previous cases against Thapa after the international media blew the lid of his illicit dealings and subsequent action by Fifa. Asked if the CIAA would revive the old case against Thapa, Pushkar said, “Of course, we can reinvestigate into any corruption case put on hold once substantive evidence are established.”