CIAA arrests 10 more NEA officials on corruption charge while purchasing transformer

KATHMANDU: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), which has been playing active role against rampant corruption of the country, has arrested 10 more persons, including retired and incumbent officials of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), in custody to probe into the multimillion-dollar transformer purchase scam.

The anti-graft constitutional body today arrested NEA Director Arjun Kumar Chauhan, retired Co-Director Shashi Bikram Thapa, Deputy Director Mahesh Kumar Karki, former General Manager Kishor Sah, Manager Hari Bahadur Gasi, Assistant Manager Nimesh Kumar Pokharel, Electrical Engineers Binod Kumar Swarnakar and Suraj Prasad Sah, Deputy Manager Manoj Baral and Assistant Electical Engineer Ramibajul Mandal in connection with the misappropriation while purchasing transformers about three years ago, CIAA Spokesperson Shreedhar Sapkota said in a statement.

The anti-graft body said they were arrested as evidences collected so far suggest their involvement in the procurement of low-quality transformers. The substandard transformers have caused excessive power leakage and explosions. This is the third time the NEA officials arrested in the same case.

All the arrested have been detained for further investigation, the CIAA said on Sunday. Earlier on Aug 20, the anti-graft body had arrested 10 officials of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), including Managing Director Rameshwar Yadav in the same case.

Previously, on August 4, the CIAA had arrested NEA Assistant Director Harish Bahadur Pal, assistant managers Surendra Paneru and Madan Raj Chapagain, engineer Prajwal Pandey, chief storekeeper Bharat Rupakheti and two Chinese nationals — Hu Zheng Qiang and Zou Yi Tian of Hubei Sunlight Electric Co Ltd, China in the same case.

The anti-corruption body had made the first arrest after a three-month investigation. All the NEA officials taken into custody had been suspended from their respective positions.

A three-member probe committee formed earlier by NEA on the issue had found that around 1,275 transformers purchased from Hubei Sunlight Electric Co Ltd, China were of low quality. NEA´s tests in its lab and other labs showed that the transformers had aluminum wires instead of copper wires.

Nepal’s position in global corruption index is going down every year due to rampant corruption. A recent study conducted by Transparency International has said that political institutions are the most corrupt institutions in Nepal. The fragile law and order situation, political instability and inefficient anti-graft watchdog have been promoting corruption in the Country. However the anti-graft watchdog has been giving relief to general public with the arrest of persons allegedly involved in corruption. The recent action of the CIAA against corrupt officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and Foreign Employment Department has boosted the confidence of foreign job-seekers.

General public, who were negative about appointment of Lokman Singh Karki for the top position of CIAA, have started praising the brave action of CIAA under his leadership and have been encouraged to file complaints against the corrupt ones.

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