CIAA intensifies probe into NAC aircraft deal

Kathmandu, January 11

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has intensified investigation into the wide-body aircraft procurement by Nepal Airlines Corporation.

The Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament on Tuesday endorsed its sub-committee’s probe report related to the financial irregularities in the purchase of the two Airbus A330-200 wide-body aircraft by NAC, stating that the entire process involved corruption worth Rs 4.34 billion.

After perusing the report, PAC directed the anti-graft body to carry out further investigation and penalise those found guilty. The report includes names of high-ranking officials such as Managing Director of NAC Sugat Ratna Kansakar, Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota and former tourism secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari.

Rameshwor Dangal, spokesperson for the CIAA, said the commission had already commissioned a detailed probe into the wide-body aircraft purchase deal and was collecting documents related to the plane purchase from NAC and other government agencies.

“A CIAA team has been investigating the issue. In fact, we had begun a preliminary probe prior to the direction from the parliamentary committee,” said Dangal. He added that an extensive investigation was going on and would be completed soon.

CIAA’s probe is expected to be crucial in framing charges against the government officials involved in irregularities in the wide-body aircraft deal as the government has not yet taken action against those found guilty by the parliamentary investigation.

Endorsing the probe report, PAC had directed the government to take legal action against Tourism Secretary Devkota, former tourism secretary Adhikari, and former tourism ministers Jitendra Narayan Dev and Mahendra Bahadur Shahi.

However, instead of acting on the PAC directive, the government formed its own probe commission on Sunday and started investigating possible irregularities in the wide-body aircraft purchase deal.

The three-member probe commission, which comprises former chief judge of Patan Appellate Court Govinda Prasad Parajuli, former deputy attorney Narendra Prasad Pathak and Chartered Accountant Madan Sharma, has been given 45 days to submit the probe report to the government.

Lawmakers and the parliamentary committee members, including Minendra Rijal of the Nepali Congress, have been saying that the formation of a separate probe commission by the government is against the spirit of the constitution and undermines the independence of the CIAA.