Investigation on fraud of flag carrier’s wide body aircrafts purchase scam widens

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-KATHMANDU

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), the state-owned flag carrier will now be under the investigation of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament concerning the purchase of two wide-body A330 aircraft.

According to the source, the decision by the committee’s was initiated after the after many lawmakers dictated the reports of funds filch during the purchase of two brand new aircraft for the national flag carrier.

The Management Committee of the flag carrier is under inquest for not following due purchase procedure. After the many issues raised about aircraft purchase, MTOW and engine warranty as mentioned on the tender notice, the committee has decided to investigate and will call representatives of relevant bodies for answers of all doubt after completing the investigation and detailed study.

The Committee will detail the aircraft purchase process and other issues with the Auditor General at the meeting on Friday, today. The meeting will also decide whether to initiate with the investigation on aircraft deal or drop after analyzing all the documents and the comments raised by the Auditor General stated PAC Chairman.

The flag carrier had purchased two A330-200 Airbus aircraft from the US-based AAR Corp for $209.6 million, the largest ever aircraft purchase deal in Nepal’s aviation history.

According to the corporation, the NAC takes the delivery of first Airbus A330 aircraft- Annapurna on June 28 and the second Airbus A330 aircraft- Makalu on July 27. Both the aircraft was under the command of Hi-fly pilots.

The crookedness in the deal for the purchase of wide-body aircraft came in public after the Office of Auditor General’s (OAG) 55th Annual Report revealed that NAC bought two aircraft violating the legal procedure.

The report clearly states that the flag carrier used an agent in-between to purchase the aircraft and had called for a global tender instead of bidding a tender from the aircraft manufacturing company. Despite in 2015 the NAC’s contacts with Airbus and had purchased two brand new narrow-body aircraft, the NAC did not seek price order from Airbus in the new deal for wide-body aircraft.

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) earlier has changed the investigation committee established for investigating on the newly bought wide-body aircraft of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). The new coordinator is Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane who was also NAC operational committee member during aircraft procurement period.

The previous coordinator Suresh Acharya, joint secretary of MoCTCA was also in the NAC operational committee for past 1 year. There was a dispute when Mr. Acharya was at investigation committee because of being a NAC operational committee member. And again the question has been raised as the changed coordinator was also involved in the A330 purchase process.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) created the investigation committee after the news about using the agents to purchase the 2 new wide-body aircraft by NAC created controversy. The auditor general has also raised a question on the controversy and the report prepared by the OAG nibbed towards the misappropriation of funds during the purchase of two wide-body aircraft.

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