Sudan scam: Confused CIAA fails to file case

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) deferred the filing of a case against officials involved in the Sudan scam in the Special Court at the last hour on Monday.

The anti graft body was confused over whether to drag the then political leadership in to the case as well.

The CIAA has prepared a chargesheet accusing over 25 top police officers of misusing Rs 350 million while purchasing Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) for the Nepali peacekeeping mission in Sudan some four years ago. However, CIAA officials are finding it hard to take a decision on whether or not to accuse former home ministers Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Bam Dev Gautam and Bhim Rawal, who, according to a House panel report, should be politically and morally responsible for what happened under their noses. The chargesheet identifies recently removed IGP Ramesh Chanda Thakuri and two more former IGPs—Om Bikram Rana and Hem Bahadur Rana—as the prime accused.

Highly placed sources in the anti-graft body, however, said that though none of the officials engaged in the decision making process are opposed to filing a corruption case against the three former home ministers, they are hesitant to do so for two major reasons.

First, the officials are wary of their ‘weakened’ jurisdiction and constitutional status as it is being run by deputed staffers in the absence of the entire board of directors. Second, the officials have not found “sufficient” evidence against the leaders. Sources said there are also differences over whether to accuse the then secretary Umesh Mainali in the case. Mainali was the secretary when the Nepal Police Headquarters signed the memorandum of understanding to procure the APCs and other logistics.

The CIAA is finding it hard to spare the political leadership also because of the recommendation of a report prepared by the Parliamentary State Affairs Committee. The report recommends the anti-graft body take action against the political leadership as well.

Meanwhile, the CIAA had to apologise with the Special Court for failing to file the case on time. “He [CIAA spokesman] telephoned and said they are filing the chargesheet against those involved in the Sudan scam,” Special Court Register Dhir Bahadur Chanda said. “He said sorry at the last moment.”

In the chargesheet, the CIAA has named AIGs Shyam Singh Thapa, Arjun Jung Bahadur Shahi and Deependra Bista and DIG Ramesh Bikram Shah, Shyam Kumar Khadka and former DIG Deepak

Kumar Shrestha as defendants along with the former IGPs. Besides, two suppliers—Assured Risks P Ltd, the London based APC supplier and Bhagwati Traders, the local contractor of the company—are also named defendants.