Over 40 high-profile people under CIAA scanner- My Republica

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Sitting and former ministers, lawmakers, top officials in hit list
KATHMANDU, Dec 7: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has started investigations against more than 40 individuals, including former and incumbent government ministers, lawmakers, other high-ranking officials and individuals from various sectors, on suspicion of their having accumulating a disproportionate amount of property through the abuse of authority.

Officials from the anti-graft body have already handed the summon letters to most of them, asking them to be present at its offices within a week. 

Those investigated by the CIAA include both former and incumbent ministers and lawmakers, sitting and retired secretaries of various ministries, top officials from various government bodies and the security agencies, businesspersons and officials from other public institutions.

CIAA officials informed that the latest operation is being handled by the anti-graft body's property valuation and special investigation division and is led by Chief Commissioner Lokman Singh Karki himself. Commissioner Raj Narayan Pathak is supporting the chief commissioner in the operation. 

A source close to Chief Commissioner Karki told Republica that over 40 high-profile individuals have been brought under CIAA investigations on suspicion of  their having amassed a disproportionate level of wealth.  

“Several incumbent ministers, secretaries and high-ranking officers from the security agencies are among those under the CIAA scanner and all of them have already been summoned to the CIAA offices to submit clarifications within a week. The names of those under investigation are being kept confidential,” said the source, adding that no one in the anti-graft body is authorized to speak about the matter. 

The CIAA had written to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) a few days ago, asking the central bank to suspend locker services for 29 individuals at various banks, as it was carrying out investigations against them, confirmed an NRB official.  

The CIAA had reportedly asked NRB to close the lockers of former ministers Surendra Pandey, Rajendra Pandey, Bidya Dhar Malik, Ram Kumar Shrestha, Chabilal Panta, Shankar Koirala, Umakanta Jha, Tek Bahadur Thapa Gharti, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Lhyarkyal Lama, Bansidhar Mishra and Nilam KC Khadka,             Secretaries Santa Bahadur Shrestha, Uttam Kumar Bhattarai and Anup Kumar Uphadyaya, incumbent lawmakers Rabindra Pratab Sah, Ichchhya Raj Tamang, Janardhan Dhakal, Bikram Pandey, Umesh Shrestha, Geeta Rana, Baburam Pokharel, former lawmaker Bijay Poudel, AIG Rajendra Singh Bhandari,  DIG Bijay Lal Kayast, former chief secretary Bhoj Raj Ghimire, executive director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka, chairman of Sajha Yatayat Kanak Mani Dixit and businessman Raj Kumar Agrawal 

“However, the list of those being investigated is longer than this. They number over 40,” said the source.  

A commissioner at the CIAA, Ganesh Raj Joshi, said as it is the chief commission and Commissioner Pathak who  are handling the operation, the other five commissioners have received no clue about who all are under scrutiny.

The CIAA, which is often accused of making people  victims of personal vendetta in the past, is now being criticized for carrying out investigations on a personal basis instead of taking up the major issues that have risen in recent days.

Despite publishing a long report about massive irregularities by government officials while distributing relief  and money to earthquake victims recently, the CIAA has not carried out any serious investigations or filed any case against any official involved. 

The CIAA has not even named those involved in the irregularities. Likewise, executive director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka has been accused of awarding a petroleum supply contract to Birat Petroleum Company in breach of the regulations. But instead of investigating the matter, the CIAA has started investigations into Khadka's personal property. 

The CIAA has been widely criticized for putting on hold the case of Ganesh Thapa, president of All Nepal Football Association, on grounds of insufficient evidence, even though FIFA, the world soccer body, has already punished him for taking bribes during elections for the FIFA president.

The CIAA is also often been accused of filing cases against individuals without carrying out proper investigations. The success rate of cases filed by the CIAA at the Special Court and the Supreme Court is significantly low and that has only given ammunition to those who raise questions about the anti-graft body itself.

 

Published on: My Republica (December 7, 2015 )