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Govt accountant under probe in Rs 75m swindle

- prithviman shrestha, Kathmandu
Rabin Chandra Dhakal stands accused of syphoning off millions of rupees from public funds

Apr 28, 2018-A government accountant is under investigation on charge of misappropriating nearly Rs 75 million while working for Mai Municipality in Ilam and Katari Municipality in Udayapur. 

Rabin Chandra Dhakal, who is currently in custody of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in Kathmandu, stands accused of syphoning millions of rupees from the municipal coffers by employing various tactics, including signature forgery.

It is the largest revenue embezzlement that has ever transpired at the local level, CIAA Spokesperson Dirgharaj Mainali said.  “Dhakal embezzled Rs 40 million from the account of Katari Muni-cipality and another 

Rs 35 million from the account of Mai Municipality. We are presently interrogating the people whose bank accounts he had used to park the purloined funds.”     

Dhakal’s wife and his brother-in-law were interrogated on Friday.

The anti-graft agency has frozen the bank accounts held by Dhakal’s close relatives for investigation. It has also secured injunction against Dhakal and his kin, barring them from sale or transfer of properties.  

Dhakal’s corruption came to fore when Peshal Pokharel, the incumbent account officer of Mai Municipality, Ilam, came across accounting discrepancies.

“I called the District Treasury Office to conduct an audit because millions of rupees were unaccounted for,” Pokharel said. “Apparently, Dhakal had been diverting the funds meant for local development projects and teachers’ salary to his account.”  

Dhakal continued to misappropriate public funds when he joined Katari Municipality one and half months ago. 

The CIAA investigation has found that Dhakal forged the signature of the administrative officer of Katari Municipality to transfer Rs 40 million to his personal account in the last one month alone.  

“He also transferred some of the money to the accounts of his relatives. We have found nearly Rs 10 million transferred to third-party accounts,” Mainali said.

This is not the first instance of revenue embezzlement found at the local level. 

On April 2, the anti-graft body had arrested Nabin Kumar Shrestha, account officer at Khadbari Municipality, Sankhuwasabha, on charge of misappropriating Rs12.5 million. He is currently under CIAA custody. 

The anti-graft body had also filed a case against eight officials of Itahari Transport Office at the Special Court in June last year for pocketing the revenue around Rs612.12 million for themselves instead of depositing the amount in bank account of office. 

In its recent 55th annual report, the Office of Auditor General has identified many incidents accounting discrepancies in local units.  

A total of 39 local units, including at Phidim Municipality, Panchthar, Naukunda Rural Municipality in Rasuwa and Uttargaya Rural Municipality, had a deficit of Rs48.4 million in their bank accounts.  

“Deficit of revenue in banks might be due to unauthorised withdrawal of money or delay in completing documentation process for depositing revenue,” said Meheshwor Kafle, assistant auditor general at OAG. “This discrepancy in bank accounts and documents showed poor internal control system at the local units.”

 

Published: 28-04-2018 08:06

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