Special Court jails ex-minister Neupane for 9½ years, suspends fines for Gurung lawmaker in corruption case

The Special Court sentenced former minister and then Social Welfare Council Chairman Badri Prasad Neupane to nine and a half years in prison and fined him Rs 24.37 crore while imposing a fine of Rs 12.18 crore the suspended legislator from the Nepalese Congress, Tek Bahadur Gurung, for corruption. .

On Thursday, the court handed down jail sentences and fines to nine people, including Neupane and Gurung, convicted of committing wrongdoing in leasing land to Fun Park, an amusement park in Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu, by lowering the price.

According to Narad Prasad Bhattarai, information officer of the Special Court, the court sentenced former minister Neupane to nine and a half years in prison; the then vice president of the Social Welfare Council Pramod Mehta to eight and a half years; then Social Welfare Council member Rabindra Kumar, also known as Rabindra Kumar Yadav, to nine years; and then Social Welfare Council member Mohan Raj Sharma, Madan Kumar Lal Karna and Hari Neupane to eight years. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 24,368,803 on all of them and further ordered them to pay an amount equal to the fine on the claims.

The court did not hand down a jail term for the operator of the Fun Park, Rabindra Kumar Gurung, but fined him the same amount as the others and also ordered him to pay an equal amount in claims.

Suspended lawmaker Gurung, who was accused of corruption as the authorized representative of Rabindra Kumar Gurung by the CIAA, was fined half the amount of the others and received no jail sentence, according to Bhattarai.

Gurung was elected to the Manang House of Representatives in the November 20 general election, but remains suspended as a legislator with the corruption case against him sub judice in the Special Court.

The court has declared that Gurung received half of the punishment as an accomplice of the main defendant, Rabindra Kumar Gurung.

The court has handed down no jail sentence or fine against Kunja Bihari Prasad Chaudhary, the then treasurer of the Social Welfare Council, but ordered the confiscation of Rs 2,436,8803 from his family.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a case against 14 people on February 4, 2019 accusing them of corruption in the Fun Park operation.

A court led by the president of the Special Court, Shreekanta Paudel, and judges Shaligram Koirala and Balabhadra Bastola had convicted nine of them for corruption and acquitted five of them on February 28.

The CIAA accused them of having made the decision to lease 60 ropanis of land to Fun Park in breach of criteria, standards and processes. He claimed that the decision of an operations committee meeting headed by Neupane on 0 September 2012 had incurred a loss of Rs 3,152,17,675 to the state.

The meeting had decided to lease the land to Rabindra Gurung and his authorized representative Tek Bahadur Gurung for 15 years and increased the monthly rent to Rs 555,000.

The CIAA has stated in its charge sheet filed with the Special Court that Council officials, in collusion with Gurung, flouted the law, criteria and procurement process and caused loss and damage to the government.

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