February 13, 2018 04:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Feb 13: With the retirement of Deep Basnyat, head of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the constitutional anti-graft agency is now left with only four members. Basnyat, 65, retired on age ground on Monday.
The remaining commissioners - Nabin Kumar Ghimire, Ganesh Raj Joshi, Raj Narayan Pathak and Sabitri Gurung - are now responsible for investigating corruption complaints filed at the CIAA.
“He [Basnyat] retired today. Commissioner Ghimire has been named as the acting chief commissioner based on seniority,” said CIAA Spokesperson Padam Prasad Pandey.
A board meeting of the anti-graft body took the decision to this effect. Ghimire is said to begin his work as the acting CIAA chief from Wednesday.
Basnet, a controversial bureaucrat, was appointed a commissioner of the anti-graft body in February 2015. Soon after the then CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki was disqualified on a charge of abusing authority, Basnyat was appointed the acting CIAA chief.
After assuming office as the CIAA chief, Basnyat is credited for investigating the multi-billion rupees tax settlement case in which Chudamani Sharma, the suspended director general of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and Tax Settlement Commission chair Lumbadhwoj Mahat and member Umesh Dhakal are the main accused. The officials have been accused of emblazing more than Rs 10 billion while settling taxes related to 45 companies out of the total 1,069 cases settled by the commission. An investigation into their alleged involvement in waiving taxes to controversial companies is still underway.
The Basnyat-led CIAA filed another case of disproportionate property against Sharma. He has been accused of accumulating Rs 40.29 million without legal sources.
Basnyat, however, was accused of delaying an investigation into the faulty land procurement deal made by the Nepal Oil Corporation Managing Director Gopal Khadka. Even after interrogating more than 200 land brokers, land officials and NOC officials, the anti-graft body has been reluctant to drag corruption-accused Khadka to the court.
Before getting retirement, Basnyat also gave a clean chit to former IGP Upendra Kant Aryal who had been accused of accumulating wealth without legal means.
Acting CIAA chief Ghimire will take charge of the CIAA until the government appoints a new head of the anti-graft body. Constitutionally, the Constitutional Council is mandated to recommend chief commissioner and commissioners of constitutional bodies including the CIAA.