From The Nepali Press
Still on Lauda
Annapurna Post, 24 August
FROM ISSUE #160 (29 AUG 2003 - 04 SEPT 2003) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The notorious Lauda Air case is still pending at the special court because Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation has not been submitted crucial papers. Last week, the court had ordered the national flag carrier to submit its audit report of fiscal year 2000-2001 within 15 days. The auditing, which should have been completed long ago, has just begun. Assuming the auditors do their job quickly, the whole process will still take another six months. The last account RNAC had audited is 1999-2000. Meanwhile, the defendants in the case have petitioned that the court not make any decisions without first examining the audit report. Lawyers for former RNAC executive chairman Hari Bhakta Shrestha and board member Tirtha Lal Shrestha argued that the CIAA claimed the Lauda deal involved huge kickbacks and corruption before receiving documented proof from RNAC. In October 2000, the corporation had leased a Lauda Air Boeing 767 for long-haul routes for an 18-month period, at the rate of $350 per flight hour. After an investigation, the CIAA concluded the corporation had incurred an unexplainable loss of Rs 380 million. It also says the deal was illegal as it was done without the benefit of global bidding. The commission's lawyers, however, say the court need not wait for the audit report since the loss incurred in the aircraft leasing deal is quite apparent. Although they have not been able to produce proof of another corruption charge levelled at the Lauda deal, the commission is confident that they can submit evidence that an advance payment of more than $1 million was made to Lauda Air, a subsidiary of Austrian Air.