CIAA starts probe against Pathak

Published On: February 20, 2019 08:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 20: A day after the Office of Attorney General (OAG) advised the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority to go ahead with a probe into former commissioner at the anti-graft body Raj Narayan Pathak, a three-member probe committee has been formed.

The committee led by a joint-secretary has already started probing the bribery case involving Pathak. “The team has already started investigating the bribery case. We will not divulge anything until the final outcome, so don't press us for further developments,” said CIAA Spokesperson Rameshwor Dangal.

Informed sources said the investigation team has obtained a conversation with Pathak recorded during a sting operation and it is finalizing a list of persons to be questioned before filing a charge sheet .

Amid legal confusion over whether or not the anti-graft body could probe one of its own commissioners, the OAG on Monday advised the CIAA that it had the power to do so and also to prosecute him on its own.

Pathak, who as CIAA commissioner had been assigned to look over corruption cases related to the education sector, had reportedly received Rs. 7.8 million from Lambodar Neupane, the chairman of Nepal Engineering College management committee, in return for a promise to favor the latter in a row over the ownership of the college. After pocketing the bribe Pathak allegedly reneged on the promise and also refused to return the bribe money.

Neupane was out to transform the college, a public entity, into a private college, which would be very lucrative.

The college management committee had later caught Pathak on tape accepting the bribes. The incriminating audio and video clips were leaked to media and went viral on social media.

Following a public outcry over the CIAA commissioner's apparent involvement in bribery, Pathak was given a choice to either resign or face impeachment by parliament. He chose to resign.

But the CIAA and parliament were widely criticized for not going after Pathak more promptly.

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