KATHMANDU, March 20: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority started interrogating its own former commissioner, Raj Narayan Pathak, on Tuesday, over allegations of his involvement in a bribery scandal involving millions.
Pathak had resigned from the position of CIAA commissioner a month ago after audio and video clips showed his involvement in receiving Rs 7.8 million in return for a promise to the head of a college management committee to favor him while settling a case over ownership of the college. A police team deployed from the CIAA arrested Pathak from his Shantinagar house early on Tuesday morning. Pathak was subsequently taken to CIAA headquarters, Tangal, for interrogation. Photos widely circulated on online news portals and social media show a black Bolero jeep taking him to places unknown. A special team formed to investigate the scam took Pathak to the CIAA and brought him back.
The interrogations are not over. Pathak had reportedly responded in writing to queries. He is still under police surveillance. His interrogation, according to sources at the CIAA, will resume Wednesday.
The bribe, according to the video clips, was provided to Pathak to settle an ownership row over the Bhaktapur-based Nepal Engineering College. Unhappy over college management committee chief Lambodar Neupane’s decision to transform the college into a private one, a section of the management committee registered a complaint against him. Shortly after the complaint was registered, Pathak had summoned Neupane to discuss the matter. At the meeting Pathak demanded Rs 3.8 million in return for a promise to favor transforming the college into a private entity.
Pathak later demanded an additional Rs 4 million, arguing that this was a dispute involving billions. But the affair had dragged on, with Pathak saying he would make good on his promise once he became chief of the CIAA. And when he became reluctant to return the money, the disgruntled party got conversations between Pathak and Neupane recorded on audio and video.
The recorded clips were provided to the CIAA and to journalists to press allegations of bribery against Pathak.
The CIAA is interrogating Pathak’s brother Shuva Narayan, Gyanendra Jha and Dhwajman Moktan. Jha had provided the bribe money to Pathak whereas Moktan had captured videos in which Pathak admitted his involvement in receiving the bribe. Neupane, however, absconded while his interrogations were underway.