CIAA yet to finalise probe report on NOC's land purchase scam

Kathmandu, January 1

Though it has been four months since the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) started investigating the possible corruption in the Nepal Oil Corporation’s land purchase deal, the anti-graft body has yet to finalise the probe report.

On August 1, CIAA had seized all documents related to the land purchase deal for constructing oil storage facilities from NOC and had begun an independent probe. However, the authority has not given its verdict on the issue so far.

Nevertheless, CIAA officials said they will be submitting the final report soon.

“It is not that the probe on land purchase scam of NOC has not moved ahead. We have completed more than 60 per cent of works related to the investigation,” said Padma Prasad Pandey, spokesperson for CIAA, adding that the commission will finalise its probe report soon.

According to him, the anti-graft body has so far sought clarifications from 200 people involved in the process of acquiring land for NOC, including land owners, land agents, officials of NOC, banks, and rural municipalities, among others. Similarly, the CIAA has completed field survey of the land purchased by NOC.

Pandey informed that CIAA is yet to seek clarifications from firms that participated in the tender process of NOC. Similarly, works regarding verifying the bank statements of the buyer and sellers of land plots will be carried out soon, according to him.

“We started the probe suspecting anomalies in the land acquisition process. We will present our findings soon,” added Pandey.

NOC had come under the CIAA scanner for alleged irregularities while buying land in Chitwan, Bhairahawa, Sarlahi and Jhapa, which were meant for the development of petroleum storage infrastructure.

Suspecting financial irregularities in the land purchase deal, various parliamentary committees of the earlier Legislature-Parliament started probing the issue. Among others, the Finance Committee, Public Accounts Committee and the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the Parliament had initiated investigations on the issue.

Moreover, a probe report prepared by the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee had determined financial irregularities in the land purchase deal.

Under pressure, the government had sacked the then chief of NOC, GopalBahadurKhadka. However, government’s decision to sack Khadka was revoked by the Supreme Court. Later, the government transferred Khadka from NOC to the Ministry of Supplies.