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Nepal football chief accused of embezzlement

30 September 2014, 19:56

Katmandu - Nepal's powerful parliamentary committee accused the long-time chief of the national football association of embezzling millions and ordered government agencies to investigate, file a case in court, and suspend him.

Ramhari Khatiwada of parliament's public accounts committee said on Tuesday they have ordered the government to immediately begin the investigation and suspend Ganesh Thapa as president of the All Nepal Football Association.

Thapa has been accused by the committee of embezzling 582 million rupees (about $6 million) during his 19-year tenure in the office.

"There are no proper records or audit reports of where much of the funds received from FIFA or AFC for development of football in Nepal have gone. We believe that all these funds have been misused by Ganesh Thapa and people in the association close to him," Khatiwada said.

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The committee has ordered the government's sports ministry to suspend Thapa, and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority to investigate him, Khatiwada said.

The parliament committee cannot file a case in court but the anti-graft commission can.

It is unlikely that the suspension order would come soon, as offices in Nepal are closed until next week for the long Hindu festival.

Thapa is a powerful figure in Nepal's sports scene. He was a popular football player who became the head of the association in 1994. He is a vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, and a member of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup committee.

FIFA said in a statement it asked the Nepalese FA "in order to get more detailed information" about the case.

Football's world governing body has strict rules protecting elected officials from government interference in how the sport is run.

However, FIFA's independent ethics committee can intervene and open cases if football officials are suspected of unethical behavior.

Thapa was recently nominated as a member of the parliament by his brother Kamal Thapa, who heads the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal. The party is the fourth largest in Nepal, and able to appoint members in the parliament.

This is not the first time that Thapa has been drawn into controversy.

It was revealed in 2012 that Thapa's son took $100,000 from Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari who, while heading the AFC, was alleged to have enriched himself and handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends and relatives.

Thapa accepted his son took the money, but said it was a personal loan from bin Hammam.

Nepal's sport authorities did not take any action against Thapa.

- AP


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