Former NOC chief charged with graft

Kathmandu, January 7

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority today filed a corruption case against former executive director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka at the Special Court accusing him of amassing disproportionate assets worth more than Rs 180 million.

The anti-graft body also made his wife Sharmila and another unrelated woman, Amita Lama Sodemba, defendants in the case. The CIAA stated that Khadka’s valid income was Rs 86,469,751 but his expenditure and investment was worth Rs 273,075,380.

According to a press release issued by the CIAA, Khadka earned a total salary of Rs 4,057,155 since 15 March 2013, when the probe began. He made Rs 5,875,000 from sale of land, besides receiving 2,922,698 as gratuity and other benefits when he quit government service.

He received Rs 1,478,482 in the form of pension. He had a balance of Rs 27,153,421 in more than 55 banks and banking institutions. The CIAA said Khadka made a payment of Rs 18,016,446 to different department stores through bank ATM cards.

During the investigation period, Khadka bought three houses. He also has an ancestral house. He made partial payments

for two other houses and also bought 11 plots in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kavreplanchowk district.

Khadka kept   property worth more than 70 million in the name of Amita Lama Sodemba, a resident of Budhanilkantha Municipality’s Ward No 4.

The CIAA invoked sections of anti-corruption laws against Khadka. The anti-graft body has demanded additional sentence against Khadka as per Section 24 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as he was   a special class employee.

The CIAA also demanded confiscation of his disproportionate assets kept in the name of Amita Lama Sodemba and his wife. The CIAA stated that it named the two women as defendants only for the purpose of confiscating the property kept by Khadka in their names. According to CIAA, Khadka purchased a house in the name of Amita Lama Sodemba at CG Hills in Hatigauda, Kathmandu, for Rs 325,00,000 and eight ana land in her name at Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu,   for Rs 4,011,875. He also purchased a vehicle in her name.

Khadka had also made a payment of Rs 30,500,000 to buy another house in the name of Amita Lama Sodemba at old Mahankal VDC’s Ward No 4. The CIAA added that Khadka used to operate bank accounts held by Sodemba at NMB and Citizens Bank. It stated that it had confiscated a good-for-payment cheque of Rs 8,989,000 issued by Khadka to buy a house built at Budhanilkantha  by Roadshow Real Estate Pvt Ltd.

Since his appointment to the top NOC post in January 2015, Khadka had been involved in several controversies.

He was accused of awarding petroleum supply licence to a controversial private company — Birat Petroleum — while the country was witnessing acute fuel shortage following border obstructions in 2015-16. He was also accused of arbitrarily distributing licences to open fuel stations across the country.

The government sacked Khadka from the post of NOC ED on September 18 after he was accused of irregularities.

Under the supervision of Khadka, NOC was found to have purchased plots of land at a much higher cost than the prevalent market rates in Jhapa, Sarlahi, Chitwan and Rupandehi districts.

In fact, NOC paid up to four times more for plots in these areas compared to the government valuation of the said plots.