08/23/2013, 00.00
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China tries to cover up giant corruption scandal in Nepal

by Kalpit Parajuli
Nepali authorities detain 22 senior Nepali officials as well as 2 Chinese suppliers who worked with the state electricity company following an unprecedented operation by Anti-Corruption Commission. The identity of the Chinese company involved is still unknown, but Beijing is concerned the story might discredit its electrical product exports.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal's Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) arrested 22 senior Nepali officials and 2 Chinese suppliers on suspicion of corruption.

This has raised China's concerns that the story might negatively affect the image of China's foreign exports. Hence, Beijing is putting pressure on Nepali authorities to keep the scandal under wrap.

The arrests are the largest ever in the history of Nepal. They involve the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), a government body that has a monopoly in the field, and a Chinese company.

The people detained were "arrested in order to continue the investigation as they were found involved in the multimillion rupee scam," said CIAA spokesperson Shridhar Prasad Sapkota.

The Chinese company manufactures electric equipment, and reportedly supplies products to Asian, European, American and African markets.

Experts agree that the further revelations could negatively affect exports by Chinese companies.

For this reason, Beijing is putting pressure on Kathmandu to free the Chinese supply agents and not to file any case against the Chinese company.

However, "We have ample of evidence of their involvement in corruption," Sapkota said. "So, we are sure that the court's final verdict will slap them with justifiable punishment and no one will be free."

The Chinese company promised to supply electric transformers with copper wiring; but under inspection, several transformers were found to have aluminium rather than copper wires, a scam worth 1.75 billion Nepali rupees (US$ 1.7 million).

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