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Ex-Nepal Telecom Chief Gets 9 Years in Prison

May 8, 2024
Ex-Nepal Telecom Chief

The Special Court in Nepal handed down a tough sentence on Tuesday against the former managing director of Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA), Sunil Paudel, in a high-profile corruption case.

Paudel was given a nine-year prison term and fined Rs230 million (around $2 million) for misusing state funds while procuring the National Payment Gateway system during his tenure leading the telecom regulator.

A two-judge bench headed by Special Court Chairperson Tek Narayan Kunwar found Paudel guilty under Section 17 of Nepal’s Prevention of Corruption Act for causing significant financial damage to the government through the flawed purchase of the payment system software.

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According to court documents, Paudel approved an “unreasonably high estimate” of Rs250 million for procuring the system without ensuring the necessary infrastructure was in place. His actions resulted in the expensive software going unutilized, amounting to a loss of public money.

“The defendant failed to fulfill his responsibilities, leading to the misuse of state funds. The amount misappropriated shall be recovered from him,” the verdict stated.

The sentence was announced after an extensive hearing. Paudel has already been sent to Dillibazar prison to serve his term.

Eight other individuals charged in the case, including former government secretary Madhu Marasini, were acquitted by the bench due to a lack of evidence against them.

The corruption charges were initially filed in October 2023 by Nepal’s Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) after a probe into irregularities around the National Payment Gateway procurement.

Tuesday’s verdict represents one of the strictest punishments for high-level corruption handed down in recent times in Nepal. It sends a strong message about the judiciary’s commitment to combating graft and ensuring accountability among public officials.

Ditible Staff

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