National

A man who embezzled money at all three offices he worked since 2015

  • The account officer faces charge of misappropriating millions from state coffers
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Mar 21, 2019-

Rabin Chandra Dhakal, an account officer, is facing corruption cases at the Special Court for swindling government revenue at all three offices he served at since joining civil service in 2015, according to the anti-graft agency.

On August 3 last year, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case against Dhakal for embezzling Rs72.29 million. He had kept the money in his and some family members accounts. He was working at Katari Municipality in Udayapur and Mai Municipality in Ilam. It was the largest ever corruption case ever filed by the CIAA with regards to graft at local level.

Dhakal is currently in Dillibazaar Prison after the Special Court sent him to judicial custody.

Before serving at these two municipalities, he had served at District Public Health Office, Solukhumbu.

After irregularities by Dhakal at Mai Municipality and Katari Municipality were exposed, another complaint was registered at the CIAA stating that he was also involved in irregularities in Solukhumbu.

During the investigation, he was found to have swindled Rs1.48 million from the offices’ accounts and transferred the amount to his mother Prem Kumari’s account.

In order to hide his misdeeds, he had prepared different accounting documents for the office and the banks, according to the commission.

On March 17 this year, the CIAA filed another corruption case against Dhakal at the Special Court for pocketing the money meant for the health office. He had served at District Public Health Office, Solukhumbu for nearly a year since July 2016.  

“He was found to be involved in irregularities in every office he served at,” CIAA Spokesperson Pradeep Koirala told the Post.

As his irregularities in Solukhumbu and Ilam were not detected earlier, he felt emboldened and continued embezzling money in Katari Municipality.

Within two months in Katari Municipality, after he was transferred from Mai Municipality, Dhakal misappropriated Rs39.83 million by forging the signature of Punya Prasad Luitel, immediate chief administrative officer of Katari municipality, according to the anti-graft agency.

“The District Treasury Office informed me first about the irregularities. And then Rastriya Banijya Bank backed up the information. It was a huge shock for me,” Katari Municipality Mayor Gyanendra Shrestha told the Post.

According to Rastriya Banijya Bank,  Dhakal had deposited the amount in his personal account claiming that it was for social security allowance to be distributed to the beneficiaries. He had also produced a municipality letter signed by then chief administrative officer Luitel. The signature, it was found later, was forged.

When the District Treasury Office notified the mayor about irregularities, Dhakal had already left for Kathmandu. The municipality informed about the situation to the CIAA while Mayor Shrestha himself came to Kathmandu searching for Dhakal. The CIAA arrested Dhakal in the third week of April last year.

Although Dhakal is in police custody, the Katari Municipality is yet to recoup the embezzled amount, which is around 16 percent of the entire budget of the municipality for the current fiscal year. The municipality had presented the budget of around Rs250 million for this fiscal.

“Since a huge chunk of our budget has been swindled, our development plans have been badly affected,” said Mayor Shrestha. “It has particularly hit agriculture and livestock programmes. We had planned to introduce agro programmes as per the need of each ward.”

Elected representatives at Mai Municipality were aware about the activities of Dhakal, as he used to quarrel with immediate chief administrative officer Kalidas Dhakal regularly, it is learnt. But what they were not aware of was the  irregularities committed by him until he went into hiding after leaving Katari Municipality.

According to Mai’s Deputy Mayor Bishnu Maya Rijal, they suspected irregularities at the hands of then account officer Dhakal after Katari Mayor inquired Mai Mayor Deepak Kumar Thewe whether Dhakal was involved in swindling the municipality’s money in his account in Mai too.

When Peshal Pokharel, the new account officer of Mai who replaced Dhakal, checked the accounts, he found many discrepancies.

“I called the District Treasury Office to conduct an audit because millions of rupees were unaccounted for,” Pokharel had told the Post in April last year.

Account officer Dhakal was transferred to Mai Municipality from Solukhumbu just ahead of the local elections in 2017.

Those who were witness to continued squabbling between Rabin Dhakal and immediate chief administrative officer Kalidas Dhakal did not know what was causing friction between them.  

“Due to repeated complaints from chief administrative officer, our Mayor asked the District Treasury Office to transfer account officer Dhakal from Mai, which eventually happened,” said Rijal.

Even on the day when account officer Dhakal was bade formal farewell, he did not leave the municipality immediately. “Insead, he broke the padlock of chief administrative officer’s chamber at night and tried to destroy the documents there,” said Rijal.

But, the CIAA in its charge sheet has pointed out collusion between the Dhakal duo. They helped each other in maintaining separate documents for the office purpose and bank, the CIAA has said.

“Chief Administrative Officer Kalidas Dhakal got Rs1 million from the amount transferred in the account of account officer Dhakal and they also agreed in collusion to register the two  plots of land purchased in Jhapa and Lalitpur from the municipality’s money in the name of their trusted ones,” the charge sheet states.

From Mai municipality,  a total of Rs32.45 million was transferred in the personal account of account officer Dhakal.

“There is obviously a lack of proper internal control system in these offices,” said CIAA Spokesperson Koirala.

Published: 22-03-2019 08:09

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