NOC ex-chief out on Rs 25-million bail

Kathmandu, February 12

The Special Court has released former managing director of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), who has been charged with embezzling a huge sum during his tenure, on bail today.

The bench of Chairman Babu Ram Regmi and members Pramod Kumar Shrestha and Narayan Prasad Pokhrel of the Special Court today released former managing director of NOC, Gopal Bahadur Khadka after he posted a bail of Rs 25 million, Bhim Kumar Shrestha, court registrar said.

Earlier on January 7, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case against Khadka at the Special Court on the charge of amassing illegal property worth more than Rs 180.66 million during his tenure at NOC.

The CIAA had sought confiscation of Rs 70 million appropriated by Khadka to his acquaintances. The anti-graft body had also made his wife Sharmila and another 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.

The CIAA had also sought additional sentence against Khadka as per Section 24 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as he was a special class employee.

The CIAA had found that Khadka had misappropriated funds in the land acquisition deal of NOC for the construction of oil storage facilities across the country, especially in Chitwan, Rupandehi, Sarlahi and Jhapa.

Under the supervision of Khadka, NOC was found to have purchased plots of land at much higher prices than the prevalent market rates. In fact, NOC paid up to four times more for plots in these areas compared to the government valuation of the said plots.

Since his appointment to the top post at NOC 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 — when 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 had sacked Khadka from the post of NOC managing director on 18 September 2017 after he was accused of these irregularities. However, Khadka moved the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to sack him but tendered his resignation on June 7 following criticism from several quarters.