Anti-graft panel slaps new case on absconding revenue chief Sharma

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Jan 30, 2018-The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Monday filed corruption case at the Special Court against absconding Chudamani Sharma, the suspended Director General of the Inland Revenue Department, charging him of illegally amassing Rs42.95 million worth of property.

This second corruption case filed against Sharma makes him one of the few public officials to face two consecutive lawsuits.

On July 16, 2017, the CIAA, in one of the largest ever corruption cases, charged Sharma and other two members of the Tax Settlement Commission (TSC) - Lumba Dhwoj Mahat and Umesh Dhakal - with embezzling revenues worth Rs10.02 billion each while exempting enterprises from taxes in dubious ways. In the fresh case filed Monday, the CIAA stated Sharma has been found to have earned Rs36.37 million legally out of Rs79.32 million properties. This means, the source of property worth Rs42.95 million could not be established, the CIAA said.  

The CIAA has made Sharma and his wife Kalpana Upreti Sharma defendant stating that the wife had owned ‘illegally earned’ properties, according to a press statement of the anti-graft body. 

“Sharma and his family members are living high standard life against their capacity with legal income, illegally earned cash deposited in his wife and sons’ bank accounts, invested in shares of various financial institutions and companies, purchased vehicles and various other movable and immovable goods,” the CIAA said.  

If the charge is proved in court, Sharma will have to spend maximum jail term of two years beside confiscation of illegally earned property and  fine equivalent to that property as per the clause 20 (2) of the Corruption Prevention Act-2002.

The CIAA board decided on Thursday to file corruption case against Sharma, but, the anti-graft body could not present him in court saying “he has been at large”. 

According to a source at the CIAA, Sharma last attended CIAA inquiry on December 18, 2017. He was to present himself at the anti-graft body for interrogation on December 31, last year but he did not come.

“After he failed to attend for further interrogation despite our repeated summons, we wrote a letter on January 14 to the Police Office in Budhanilkantha asking them to arrest him and hand him over to us,” said the CIAA source. “Budhanilkantha Police informed us that his whereabouts are not known.” Earlier too, Sharma did not co-operate with the CIAA during the interrogation, according to CIAA officials.

As Sharma was not presented to the court, the court will now issue summons in Sharma’s name. “The summons should reach Sharma or it should be put at his home within 15 days. Then, he will have another 15 days to present himself to the court,” said Special Court Spokesperson Nagendra Pokharel. 

According to Pokharel, the Special Court would put him on trail on the fresh corruption case if he attends the court on February 14, the date given by court to attend at the court concerning the previous corruption case.  

“He has to present himself to the court on February 14. Otherwise, the bail amount of Rs10 million he had put at the court to be released on November 28 last year, will be retained,” said Pokharel. 

Published: 30-01-2018 07:53

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