Kathmandu, Feb 21 (IANS) Gokul Baskota, a close aide of Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli and also the Communications Minister, has resigned following the release of an audio recording of him allegedly negotiating a $6 million “commission” with the local agent for a Swiss company, it was reported on Friday.
If prosecuted and indicted, Baskota could face up to 10 years in prison, The Kathmandu Post said in a report.
In the two-and-a-half-minute audio recording, a voice purportedly of Baskota can be heard negotiating with Bijaya Prakash Sharma Mishra, the local agent for a Swiss company vying for a government contract regarding the security printing of passports and other sensitive material.
The Kathmandu Post however, could not independently verify if the voice in the recording was that of the Minister.
Baskota, who was also the spokesperson for the Oli administration, took to social media to announce his resignation.
“I have tendered my resignation before the Prime Minister on moral grounds as questions have been raised about me,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Following the leak, the primary opposition Nepali Congress was quick to demand the Minister’s resignation and an impartial investigation into the allegations.
Friday’s meeting of the National Assembly was postponed after Congress lawmakers demanded Baskota’s resignation and a clarification from Oli on the matter.
According to Nepal’s Prevention of Corruption Act, 2002, any public servant who accepts or agrees to accept bribes of more than 10 million Nepalese rupees ($87,317) is liable for eight to 10 years imprisonment, confiscation of property equal to the graft amount, or both.