Complaint filed to probe properties of tainted anti-graft official and ‘his associates’

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Feb 22, 2019-

Investigation into Raj Narayan Pathak, who resigned as a commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority after he was embroiled in a bribery scandal, could reel out more names, as a complaint against at least eight sitting and former government employees has been filed at the anti-graft agency for working in collusion with the tainted official.

The new complaint, filed on Thursday, has claimed that they worked in cahoots with Pathak to raise money and amass properties illegally.

Four days after a complaint was registered seeking investigation into the properties of Pathak, the second complaint was filed seeking investigation into properties of these eight current and former government employees.

The anti-graft agency is already probing into Pathak’s bribery scandal after video leaks showed him admitting to receiving money to settle a case related to Nepal Engineering College.

Sujan Dahal, an anti-corruption activist, filed the complaint against Umesh Jha, a retired engineer from the Department of Roads; Lalit Jha,  a non-gazetted senior officer at Tribhuvan International Airport; Pramod Jha, a Nepal Electricity Authority employee based in Janakpur; and Jibnath Chaudhary, a suspended government employee against whom the anti-graft body had earlier initiated corruption investigation.

Likewise, Subhakanta Jha, a survey officer; Sanjaya Thakur who had resigned as a survey officer after the anti-corruption office launched a probe against him for using fake educational certificates to get the job; Maghbendra Yadav, chief of the Jaleshwor Nepal Electricity Authority; and Nagendra Jha, a retired government joint secretary, also have been charged with working in collusion with Pathak.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Post, Umesh Jha had opened an office at Tinkune, Kathmandu where Pathak allegedly used to “carry out his money-related dealings”.

Pathak resigned last Friday, two days after video leaks showed him admitting to receiving money “to settle a case” related to the Changunarayan-based college.

Involvement of an official from the corruption watchdog has created quite an uproar, with stakeholders saying that corruption is deep-rooted in Nepal and it is thriving in culture of impunity and in collusion with politicians.

As lawmakers were preparing to file an impeachment motion against Pathak, he swiftly resigned giving rise to multiple legal questions including whether an official of any constitutional body can be probed after the resignation. The Office of the Attorney General, however, on Monday told the anti-graft agency that a probe into Pathak could be launched.  

The graft watchdog has formed a three-member team to investigate into Pathak.

When asked about investigation into properties of Pathak and his associates, a senior official at the anti-graft body told the Post that he had heard that a complaint has been registered to that effect.

“We are holding discussions on initiating a probe into the properties of Pathak. But we are yet to take a decision,” the official said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “I think, a probe into properties of Pathak and his associates will also be launched,” the high level official said.

Published: 22-02-2019 10:10

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