Nepal's anti-graft body on Tuesday charged former minister Badri Prasad Neupane and 13 others for their alleged involvement in embezzling millions of rupees while leasing out government-owned land to a private organisation. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) filed a corruption case at the Special Court against Neupane, the former minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare, and 13 others on charge of irregularities worth Rs 315.21 million while leasing out land to Fun Park, a children's amusement park at Brikutimandap in Kathmandu.
The park which covers 60 ropanies of land is owned by the Social Welfare Council (SWC), the regulatory body of the non-government organisations. A meeting of the Board of Directors of SWC headed by erstwhile minister on September 5, 2012 awarded the contract to Rabindra Gurung to run Fun Park for a monthly rent of Rs 555,000 (inclusive of all taxes) for 15 years without competitive bidding, causing a loss of Rs 315.21 million to the council, the CIAA has said in its chargesheet.
The anti-graft body said that as per the Governmental Contract Agreement Act, 1963, the defendants were required to award the contract through tender process but they did not comply with this provision. It also said that the defendants awarded the contract for 15 years for a very low amount violating public procurement laws. The CIAA has sought recovery of the amount from Neupane and others as well as a jail term of up to 10 years each. Neupane was representing the Chure Bhawar Ekta Party which later merged with the then CPN-UML.
Other defendants in the case include former vice-chair of Social Welare Council (SWC) Pramod Mehata, former treasurer of SWC Kunja Bihari Prasad Chaudhary and former members of SWC Hari Neupane, Mohan Raj Sharma, Madan Kumar Lal Karna and former member secretary of the council Ravindra Kumar.
(With inputs from agencies.)