CIAA to quiz NOC board members

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The anti-graft body is probing oil monopoly for irregularities in land deals

Jan 14, 2018-The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, which has been interrogating senior officials of the Nepal Oil Corporation over alleged irregularities in land deals, on Saturday said it would quiz NOC board members shortly.

Top NOC officials have been charged with irregularities while buying land in Chitwan, Bhairahawa, Jhapa and Sarlahi districts at ‘highly inflated’ prices through middlemen to build oil storage facilities.

CIAA Spokesperson Padam Prasad Pandey said NOC board members including Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka might be interrogated within a week.

“Initially, we are taking note of the information provided by the NOC staffers. We’ll next go for the higher authority on the basis of the information about the land deals,” Pandey said.

The CIAA has already interrogated half a dozen NOC staffers including Pushkar Karki, Shailendra Bhusal and Arjun Poudel over the past week.

Earlier, the anti-graft body conducted a field visit to collect information on whether the prices paid by the NOC to purchase land at the four locations matched the going rate at that time.

A source at the CIAA said they had found discrepancies between the rates landowners got and that the NOC paid to the middlemen.

According to Pandey, they had interacted with some 200 people including landowners, middlemen and chiefs of the local bodies involved in the deals. The anti-graft body is conducting a detailed probe into the case after alleged large-scale irregularities made headlines.  

A subcommittee under the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the erstwhile Legislature-Parliament found during its field study that the NOC paid three to four times the going rate for the land patches.

Hinting at collusion, the subcommittee found that local government staffers had recommended “artificial price”—much higher than the amount quoted by bidders—for the land plots that the state-owned oil monopoly had bought.

Published: 14-01-2018 08:01

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