KATHMANDU, Nov 17: The new leadership of the CIAA, with support from other government agencies, has tried to dismantle the network set up by suspended CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki for running the anti-graft body as a ‘parallel government’.
CIAA Commissioner Deep Basnyat, who is acting-chief at the anti-graft body since Karki’s suspension, has removed the latter’s trusted men from key roles within the CIAA and various other government agencies.
Basnyat has drastically reduced the number of police personnel deployed under the CIAA at Karki’s behest, and senior police officers assigned to investigate high-profile corruption cases have been removed from those assignments.
Contrary to the previous practice of civil servants leading the investigations carried out by the anti-graft body, Karki had assigned police officials trusted by himself to handle high-profile cases. The number of police personnel was also increased significantly.
An informed CIAA source said Senior Superintendent of Police Rabindra Sharma, who was assigned to head the Eastern Regional Office, has been removed from that responsibility. SSP Yogeshwar Ramkhami has been transferred from the CIAA’s Department Number 3, which lookd into corruption in the physical planning and development sector.
Apart from them, Karki had deployed five to seven senior police officials in each department so that he could get each and every update on the investigations. He didn’t fully trust the work of civil servants.
“But now, the civil servants are free to carry out their investigations independently and the police don’t interfere. The security personnel are now mainly focused on maintaining the security arrangements and arresting the accused when instructed to do so by a commissioner,” said a CIAA official seeking anonymity. He said the number of security personnel at the CIAA has decreased accordingly.
Out of 450 police personnel working at the anti-graft body, 100 have already been sent back to Police Headquarters, citing overstaffing. “The number of police deputed at the CIAA has now been reduced,” CIAA spokesperson Ganesh Raj Karki told Republica.
Retired police officials Gobardan Shrestha and Bharat Sharma, who were assigned as experts were removed from their responsibilities immediately after the impeachment motion against the CIAA chief was filed at parliament. The impeachment process initiated against Karki on the charge of abusing authority and trying to run a parallel government is still under discussion in parliament.
DSP Dan Bahadur Thapa, who was allegedly involved in phone tapping, has been transferred to Police HQ and the CIAA has stopped using phone-tapping devices and other spying activities, it is learnt.
The current CIAA leadership has weakened Karki’s influence in the bureaucracy by starting investigations into the property details of Chudamani Sharma, director general of the Inland Revenue Department, and Nepal Trust Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki. Sharma had reportedly been transferred to the IRD as DG at Karki’s behest, with the aim of tightening the screws against his opponents. The IRD had started investigations against journalist Kanak Mani Dixit and various others who criticized Karki’s working style. It is widely believed that Sharma initiated this at Karki’s behest
Secretary Karki, who was accused of involvement in misusing earthquake relief and amassing a disproportionate amount of property, was reportedly protected by the CIAA chief. The CIAA hauled dozens of junior officials to the special court on charges of misusing relief material, while letting Secretary Karki go scot free even though parliament’s Public Accounts Committee had accused him of misusing the state coffers while purchasing relief materials.
Along with Sharma and Karki, the CIAA has now began property investigations against around 20 public officials, including AIGs Pratap Thapa and Birendra Babu Shrestha, Director General of Department of Customs Shishir Kumar Dhungana, and joint-Secretaries Dhan Raj Gyawali and Madhav Karki. These are said to be close to suspended CIAA chief, according to CIAA officials.