Sunil Paudel, Ex-Nepal Telecom Chief Gets 9 Years In Prison

Sunil Paudel, Ex-Nepal Telecom Chief Gets 9 Years In Prison

Nepal’s Special Court issued a stern ruling on Tuesday against Sunil Paudel, the former managing director of Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA), in a prominent corruption case.

Paudel received a nine-year prison sentence and a fine of Rs230 million (approximately $2 million) for misappropriating state funds during the procurement of the National Payment Gateway system while he led the telecom regulatory body.

Presided over by Special Court Chairperson Tek Narayan Kunwar, a two-judge panel found Paudel guilty under Section 17 of Nepal’s Prevention of Corruption Act for inflicting substantial financial harm on the government through the faulty acquisition of payment system software.

Court records reveal that Paudel sanctioned an exorbitant estimate of Rs250 million for acquiring the system without ensuring the requisite infrastructure was in place. Consequently, the costly software remained unused, resulting in a squandering of public funds.

“The defendant neglected his duties, leading to the misapplication of state finances. He shall be held accountable for the misused amount,” declared the verdict.

Following a comprehensive hearing, the sentence was pronounced, and Paudel has since been incarcerated in Dillibazar prison to commence his term.

However, eight other defendants implicated in the case, including former government secretary Madhu Marasini, were acquitted by the bench due to insufficient evidence against them.

The corruption allegations, initiated in October 2023 by Nepal’s Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), stemmed from an investigation into irregularities surrounding the procurement of the National Payment Gateway.

Tuesday’s verdict marks one of the harshest penalties imposed for high-level corruption in recent Nepalese history, underscoring the judiciary’s dedication to combatting malfeasance and upholding accountability within the ranks of public officials.

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