The Special Court has pointed out ‘serious lapses’ in the investigation into the alleged involvement of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and Bangladeshi national Rubel Choudhary in the multi-million rupee Sudan scam.
In the full text of the final verdict on Sudan scam, the court has expressed its serious dismay at the anti-graft body CIAA’s handling of the case, overlooking the involvement of key actor Rubel Choudhary and MoHA officials in the course of investigation.
Chouddhary, the son-in-law of Nepali Congress leader Sujata Koirala, was the “power broker” in the purchase of obsolete Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) for the Nepali peacekeeping mission in Darfur despite media reports.
The full text has mentioned that the CIAA only interrogated an accountant of the MoHA regarding its decision to purchase APCs but left the responsible officials untouched.
“The commission did not carry out its investigation properly to find out those behind initiating the purchase of APCs, applying faulty financial and administration regulation,” reads the full text of verdict, adding that the MOHA violated the Public Procurement Act in its purchase of the APCs for Nepali peace keeping mission, with the ministry officials trying to cover up such misdeed. The court officials said the anti-graft body did not carry out its role as it should have before filing the case against those accused in the scam. Former Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Bam Dev Gautam and Bhim Rawal and former Home secretaries Umesh Mainali and Govinda Kusum were at the helm at the time. “It appears the commission overlooked key players involved in the scam,” states the verdict. “In an email written to Shambhu Bharati, Michael Rider, the proprietor of Assured Risks Pvt Ltd, had scolded Rubel Choudhary but the CIAA did not take that into account during its investigation.”
In the email sent to Bharati, a local agent of the international supplier some five years ago, a senior company official had indicated that Rubel was not just a go-between, but actively involved in decision-making that ultimately led to the sealing of the deal. In the letter, Rider asked Bharati to contact Choudhary for the payment.
The CIAA had filed a case against 34 senior police officials, including three former IGPs—Om Bikram Rana, Hem Bahadur Gurung and Ramesh Chanda Thakuri and two suppliers—Rider and his agent Shambhu Bharati on charge of embezzling around Rs 290 million in the purchase of APCs.