Two former NTB officials jailed in corruption case

  • Court orders Mahendra Khanal to pay a penalty of Rs 154,224
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 23, 2018-

The Special Court on Thursday convicted two former officials of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and a tourism entrepreneur on corruption charges.

A division bench of Special Court Chairman Baburam Regmi and members Dwarika Man Joshi and Narayan Prasad Pokhrel convicted Subash Nirola, Anil Kumar Das and Mahendra Khanal of misappropriating millions in tax money.

Nirola and Das are the former officiating CEO and acting director of NTB. Khanal is the managing director of Worldwide Asian Travels and Tours, a private travel agency.

The court handed down seven-year jail sentence and a fine of Rs 8.51 million to Nirola. He was also ordered  to  repay the embezzled amount of Rs5.45 million.

Das was handed six years jail term, fine of Rs 5.45 million and repayment of embezzled amount of Rs 2.43 million.

Khanal avoided jail sentence as the court only ordered him to pay a penalty of Rs 154,224, said Nagendra Keshari Pokhrel, the court spokesperson.

The court also acquitted 20 other people accused in the same case.

Those acquitted include former government secretaries Sushil Ghimire, Sharad Chandra Poudel and Ranjan Krishna Aryal; joint secretaries Megh Bahadur Pandey and Dilli Siwakoti; and former Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Ratish Chandra Lal Suman.

NTB senior directors Nandani Lahe Thapa and Aditya Baral; directors Hikmat Singh Ayer and Kashi Raj Bhandari; senior managers Lila Bahadur Baniya and Diwakar Rana; and managers Dhruba Rai and Laxman Gautam were also found not guilty.

The court also gave clean chit to NTB board members Pampha Devi Dhamala, Rewat Bahadur Thapa, Dhruba Narayan Shrestha and Phur Gyalzen Sherpa, who were charged of promoting financial irregularities by amending the NTB’s Financial Bylaws that had granted sweeping powers to its chief.

The CIAA had filed charges in 10 different areas of irregularities. Of them, corruption has been proved in three areas.’

According to the court, corruption has been proved in procurement of alcohol by submitting counterfeit bills, making payment by issuing fake travel bills from Worldwide Asian Travels and Tours and spending the NTB’s budget in personal works.

Nirola was found guilty in all the three areas.

In October 2014, following a corruption enquiry that lasted nearly a month, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had directed the Tourism Ministry to immediately suspend Nirola from the posts of officiating CEO and director of NTB. Following which, in February 2015, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority opened formal investigation before filing a corruption case against 23 people for embezzling Rs340 million.

The charge sheet filed at the Special Court accused the officials of misappropriating taxpayers’ money and demanded Rs810 million in fines.

Published: 23-02-2018 09:07

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