The subcommittee formed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the parliament to probe procurement of two wide-body planes by the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has concluded that Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari was complicit in corruption of Rs 4.3556 billion during the procurement process.
The sub-committee has also found moral responsibility of his predecessors Jitendra Narayan Dev and Jeevan Bahadur Shahi in the case.
Minister Adhikari, who had recently announced he will quit politics if his involvement in corruption in the procurement process is established, refused to comment after his complicity in corruption has been pointed in the subcommittee's report.
"I won't speak about it now," Adhikari told Setopati over the phone from Bhairahawa. "I will speak in an organized manner when necessary."
Coordinator of the subcommittee submitted the probe report to PAC Chairman Bharat Kumar Shah earlier on Wednesday.
"This subcommittee recommends the PAC to instruct the government to punish Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari as per the prevailing laws as he instructed for payment of the final installment without investigation despite the 55th annual report of the Auditor General clearly stating that the procurement process is not in accordance to the laws; he claimed no payment was paid during his term and he formed a task force including officials from NAC to complete mere formality of probe and did not bring the facts to the fore despite expressing commitment in the august House to submit report after thorough probe; he seems to have connived with bad intentions to make the payment as he claimed he made payment of the final installment after informal consultation with Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma but the Auditor General came and recorded with this subcommittee that Minister Adhikari provided false details and even mentioned that in the registered letter," the report reads.
The report states that payment of two installments was made after Adhikari became minister. The report also mentions that former minister Dev, who is currently National Assembly member from Nepali Congress (NC), lied to the subcommittee.
It points that he is directly involved in the irregularities as the first installment was paid during his term. "He came to the subcommittee and claimed he knows nothing and there is no role of minister even though the payment was made with his signature," a subcommittee member told Setopati.
The subcommittee has also recommended suspension of two serving secretaries including Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota and Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai who was tourism secretary and ex officio chairman of the NAC board at the time of procurement. Former tourism secretary Shankar Adhikari, who has also been recommended for punishment by the subcommittee, has retired now.
The subcommittee has termed NAC General Manager Sugat Ratna Kansakar the kingpin of corruption during the procurement process and recommended his immediate suspension. "The subcommittee recommends the PAC to instruct the Nepal Government and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority to stringently punish them as they have abused authority with bad intentions," the report reads.
The subcommittee has deemed that the whole procurement process was envisioned for the purpose of corruption. It has concluded that the reason for inviting bids for Airbus airplanes manufactured after 2014 and that have clocked 1,000 flight hours instead of procuring new ones was to abuse the discount provided from the broker company in procurement.
It has also called foreign trips of 38 persons to observe wide-body planes corruption. "There were more accounting staffers than technical ones who went to France to observe the planes," a subcommittee member told Setopati. "Only two of them filled the one-page form for the foreign visits."
A total of Rs 10 million was spent during the foreign trips.
This will be the biggest corruption case in history of Nepal if the claims made in the subcommittee's report are true.
The subcommittee earlier on Monday had concluded there was corruption of Rs 3.88 billion in the case but raised the amount to Rs 4.3556 billion after receiving additional documents from the Office of the Auditor General. "We have also added the Rs 10 million spent for foreign trips," the subcommittee member said.
Published Date: Wednesday, Poush 18, 2075, 14:49:08