NRB guv refutes CIAA allegation

Kathmandu, June 30:

Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijaya Nath Bhattarai has claimed that the he is not absconding and will face the case filed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

“I’m not absconding rather I’m doing my regular job,” Bhattarai told a group of journalists in the capital today. “I’m provided with around-the-clock security by the police (government), how can I be absconding,” he asked.

The anti-graft body yesterday had lodged a corruption case at the Special Court, alleging governor Bhattarai and Surendra Man Pradhan, executive director at the central bank for causing an intentional loss of Rs 24.5 million to public property by not claiming compensation after terminating a consultation agreement unilaterally.

NRB had signed an agreement worth $2.659 million with an American consulting firm IEF Inc in association with KPMG, Sri Lanka in February 2006 for financial sector restructuring project, being executed with the assistance of the World Bank. CIAA has charged that the alleged officials made a payment of $68,277 for a job that the consulting firm didn’t carry out.

Bhattarai, on the other hand, claimed that the allegations are ‘fabricated’ and ‘contradictory’. “I will face the case and present before the court all the evidence,” he said, adding that the allegations are made on personal prejudice.

The NRB officials also claimed that the CIAA made the charge sheet without adequate homework and investigation. They claimed that the authorised firm (selected through bidding process) to execute the project was IEF Inc. The first instalment of payment worth $68,277 was made through a swift transfer to IEF Inc’s bank account in the US, after the firm submitted an inception report.

Bhattarai also claimed the contract agreement was given to IEF Inc following rigorous study of their bid proposal (both technical and financial) and with the consent of the World Bank.

The firm has also designated its authorised local liaison representative — IEF Solutions under Kusum Law Firm that to be represented by Rajan Maskey for the project. However, the CIAA charge sheet claims that the American firm has no physical or local representation.

“The termination of the contract was operational matter of the central bank and it was done with the consent of the World Bank, after the consulting firm IEF Inc failed to perform satisfactorily,” Bhattarai said.