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Threat, bribery in jets deal: WikiLeaks

world Updated: Jan 05, 2011 02:54 IST
Utpal Parashar

It's a deal mired in controversies. And recent release of US diplomatic cables by whistleblower website WikiLeaks adds more twists to the Nepal Airlines Corporation's two aircraft deal with Airbus.

Besides showing attempts made by the US embassy in Kathmandu to scuttle the deal and swing it in Boeing's favour, it reveals how a senior minister allegedly used threat and bribes as means to push it through.

The cable dated February 24, 2010 mentions how US officials were monitoring the deal with Nepal's national carrier and getting information about those pushing for it.

"Powerful political forces, including Deputy Prime Minister BK Gachchhadar, strongly support the Airbus deal," the cable mentions. It mentions that Gachchhadar had offered bribe to a member of the public accounts committee (PAC) of Nepal parliament to support the deal with the European manufacturer.

The Madhesi leader allegedly threatened Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to pull his party - Madhesi Peoples' Rights Forum (Democratic) - out of the government if the Airbus deal didn't go through.

Embassy officials also raised the issue with Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and felt that the senior Nepali Congress leader, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, supported Airbus over Boeing.