Nepal | September 29, 2020

Parliamentary panel to probe former CoAS Chhetri

Sub-panel of good governance committee recommends CIAA, DoMLI investigation into case

Umesh Poudel
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Kathmandu, February 13

A committee of the Federal Parliament is gearing up to investigate former chief of army staff Rajendra Chhetri acting on complaints regarding his involvement in irregularities when he was at the helm of Nepali Army.

A sub-panel of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee under the Federal Parliament today recommended that the full committee conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged wrongdoings by Gen (retd) Chhetri during his tenure through the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the Department of Money Laundering Investigation.

The sub-panel had been formed to conduct initial investigation into the complaints against former CoAS Chhetri and others.

Amaresh Kumar Singh, a member of the parliamentary committee, said Chhetri was believed to have misappropriated around Rs 4 billion when he was leading NA.

“However, we’ll get to know the details of the graft amount only after the CIAA and DoMLI conclude their investigation,” he added.

Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri

This undated image shows Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri. Photo: RSS

Former CoAS Chhetri had led Nepali Army from 10 September 2015 to 8 September 2018, when most of the reconstruction works were undertaken following the devastating earthquakes in 2015.

Apart from the misappropriation of funds during the reconstruction works undertaken by NA, Chhetri has also been accused of irregularities while awarding the tender of Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, purchasing helicopters, construction of army headquarters, Shashi Bhawan (residential house of CoAS), military hospital, awarding ration contract and purchasing utility goods such as boots and clothes.

Singh added that most of the complaints were lodged by army officials.

“Being at the helm of NA does not give anyone the licence to do as they please.”

Rekha Sharma, another member of the sub-panel of the committee, said they had submitted report to the full committee. “The full committee will decide on the way ahead,” she added.

The three-member sub-panel includes Nawaraj Silwal and Dilendra Badu.

In November, an internal investigation carried out by NA had found high-level corruption in Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track Project, with involvement of some top army officials, including Chhetri.

The investigation team had uncovered corruption worth billions of rupees even before the national pride project was executed. The team has discovered irregularities while preparing designs and technical specifications, selecting consultants and awarding the tender for the project.

An NA major general, seeking anonymity, said today that Chhetri had been putting immense pressure on NA officials not to forward his case to the CIAA.

NA had initiated its own probe into irregularities carried out by Chhetri in the case of the fast track project following the direction from CoAS Purna Chandra Thapa.

Reportedly Major General Sharad Giri and his team have already concluded their internal investigation, but the report has not been made public yet.

 


A version of this article appears in print on February 14, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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