KATHMANDU, July 13: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has readied a corruption case worth Rs 10.96 billion against Chudamani Sharma, the suspended director general of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and two office-bearers of the Tax Settlement Commission (TSC). The CIAA has accused them of waiving billions of rupees while settling taxes.
Soon after finalizing the charge sheet, a CIAA team had reached the Special Court at around 4 pm to register the case against TSC chief Lumbadhwoj Mahat, member Umesh Dhakal and member-secretary Sharma. But the court administration refused to register the case citing the lack of adequate time to complete the registration procedures within the office hours.
“Our team had reached the court at around 4 pm but the court officials did not register the case. And we will file the case tomorrow,” said a senior CIAA official.
Investigators tried to file the case against the accused before completing probe into the tax scam. Informed CIAA sources said the charge sheet was filed before completing the investigation.
According to the officials, the TSC office-bearers have been accused of waiving taxes of 1,079 business firms. But the charge sheet was prepared based on the investigation into the tax files of only 45 major firms. The CIAA has sought a fine of Rs 10.96 billion from the accused. The fine sought from the accused is said to be the highest ever in Nepal’s corruption cases.
Asked why the CIAA filed the case before completing the probe, an official expressed ignorance. “So far, I have not yet gone through the charge sheet. That’s why I can’t say anything on that,” said the official.
Suspended IRD chief Sharma is in CIAA custody. A writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court demanding to reduce the Rs 3 billion bail as demanded by the anti-graft body and release accused Sharma from custody. Responding to the writ petition filed on behalf of Sharma, the apex court had ordered the CIAA to present the accused and clarify reasons behind putting him behind the bar.
Observers maintained that the anti-graft body had tried to file a corruption case against Sharma before the apex court decides the writ petition. On Wednesday, the apex court had ordered the CIAA to present Sharma before the court along with a reply in writing.
Other two accused – Mahat and Dhakal – are at large. The police have not been able to arrest them although an arrest warrant has been issued against the accused.
Sharma was arrested on June 2 on the charge of waiving taxes while fixing the tax liabilities of large industrial entities. Sharma and the two TSC office-bearers have been accused of whittling down tax liabilities amounting to Rs 30.52 billion to Rs 9.54 billion for purportedly resolving disputed tax cases.
The accused have been arguing that they have done nothing wrong in settling the tax cases but worked in accordance with the mandate given to the TSC which was formed by the then finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat.