CIAA summons foreigners involved in two wide-body aircraft acquisition

Published On: December 8, 2023 06:30 PM NPT By: Enika Rai

KATHMANDU, Dec 8: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has summoned the directors of three foreign companies involved in the acquisition of two widebody aircraft of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) for statements.

Deepak Sharma, Oleg Kalistru and Christian Nhulen have been summoned by the Commission for an investigation into the corruption case that occurred during the purchase of widebody aircraft by the NAC.

According to the information published by the CIAA, Sharma is a British citizen, Nhuylen is a German and Oleg Kalistru is a citizen of Romania and Moldova. A notice has been published in Thursday's The Rising Nepal daily newspaper asking them to appear before the authority for statement within 15 days.

It is mentioned in the published notice that the authority called them to investigate the complaint that there was corruption in the purchase of A-330-200 aircraft by the corporation.

According to the published public notice, it has been asked to 'appear within 15 days in room number 108 of the office of CIAA at Tangal'. All the three persons who have been called for the statement are instructed in the notice to appear one by one with a copy of their photograph and their respective passports.

What was the widebody scam?

In December 2016, the NAC selected a group consisting of AAR Corp of America, German Aviation Capital of Germany and Hi Fly (airline) of Portugal for purchase and brought two widebody aircraft to Nepal. In that case, it was estimated that there was corruption of Rs 4.3556 billion.

In this regard, on December 26, 2018, the Public Accounts Committee of parliament concluded that there was corruption in the procurement contract. AAR Corp., an American company within the group of companies that sells aircraft, informed the regulatory authorities there, stating that its employees may have violated the American corruption laws in their transactions in Nepal and South Africa.

In the 55th report of the Auditor General in March 2018 regarding the issue of aircraft purchase, it was mentioned that this wide-body purchase process is not in accordance with the law. The Public Accounts Committee of parliament formed a sub-committee and investigated the matter.

The sub-committee, chaired by Rajan KC, concluded that corruption had taken place in the purchase of the aircraft and recommended action against the then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari in the purchase of the aircraft.

Along with former tourism ministers Jiban Bahadur Shahi and Jitendra Dev, the The report was submitted recommending action against former tourism ministers Jiban Bahadur Shahi and Jitendra Dev along with tourism secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota and Shankar Adhikari. The committee recommended that the Managing Director of the corporation, Sugat Ratna Kansakar, was involved in the purchase of the aircraft and that he should be suspended immediately.

Sources claim that the Nepal government has requested the details of 15 people, including two former ministers involved in the aircraft purchase case and the then general manager of the Nepal Airlines Corporation.

The maximum take-off weight was mentioned to be 242 tons and then the price was changed by bringing the planes of 230 tons. Even the Public Accounts Committee of parliament called this matter a serious irregularity.

Before purchasing the aircraft, the corporation formed a special committee of 11 people including technicians. It included the director of the corporation and the captains.

The aircraft was purchased as per the recommendations of the special committee. Brihadman Tuladhar, Pradeep Raj Bhandari, Captain Rabindra Kumar Sherchan, Umesh Paudel, Rabindra Shrestha, Janak Kalakheti, Paras Paudel, Upendra Paudel, Prabhas Kumar Karmacharya and Ganesh Bahadur Chand were in the special committee.


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