KHADC panel probe report points at CEM, EM roles in fund transfer

FIR lodged against ex-Council secretary Welljune Syiemlieh

Empty chairs at the KHADC on Monday during the special session which started half an hour late  as members did not reach on time. (ST)
Empty chairs at the KHADC on Monday during the special session which started half an hour late
as members did not reach on time. (ST)

SHILLONG: The House Committee of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) probing the alleged misappropriation of funds has revealed that all “major transactions” were done by former Secretary of the executive committee Welljune Syiemlieh at the behest of Chief Executive Member P.N Syiem and EM in-charge Finance Neil Antonio War.
The probe report of the House Committee was tabled during a special session of the KHADC here on Monday.
“It is evident from his (Welljune Syiemlieh’s) statement, both written and verbal, that all the major transactions were done by the then Secretary to the Executive Committee at the direction of the CEM and the EM, N.A War,” the report said.
Earlier, following a magisterial probe into the matter, the House Committee was formed to further follow up the matter and table the report.
The House panel report said transfer of council fund to the private account “is a clear violation of the funds rules of the council as it was done without following procedures”.
The CEM said during the session that an FIR was filed against Syiemlieh for the misappropriated money of the KHADC.
Probe report findings
The report said the total amount withdrawn by Welljune Syiemlieh from Nongpoh and Nongstoin branches of the bank is Rs 1.52 lakh and the amount was paid to several firms, casual employees, payment for land and others worth Rs 1.37 crore.
In addition, other amounts were also paid to lawyers, Khasi Heritage Conservation Forum (KHCF) and War worth Rs 4.30 lakh and the money, Rs 9.87 lakh, remained with Syiemlieh.
The report also added that the amount of Rs 1,22,000 paid to KHCF could not be      substantiated by supporting documents
With regards to purchase of land at Mawkyrwat, the report added that the Committee had summoned a person identified as Nolipstar Lyngdoh to appear before it regarding payment to him as claimed by Syiemlieh.
Lyngdoh had clarified that Rs 10 lakh was transferred to his account but the bank statement indicated that Rs 30 lakh was paid to him and the committee had called for further inquiry into the matter.
With regard to Rs 50-lakh loan to Anderson Structural Construction, Syiemlieh clarified in his written statement that he had acted on the verbal order of War and the amount was later refunded and utilised towards payment of other liabilities such as payment towards court cases and expenditures during the Monolith Festival.
Shylla reaction
The Council chairman, L.G Nongsiej, said the House agreed to forward the matter to the executive committee that will place a report in the next session.
But the report pointed out that it was inclusive as Syiem and War were not examined on the entire content.
Emphasising on the inconclusiveness of the probe report, UDP member in the Council H.S Shylla demanded that the term of the House Committee, which was formed last month, be extended.
“This report is inconclusive since investigation against the involvement of the CEM and the EM is still pending by the House Committee,” he said and asked for the resignation of Syiem and War to ensure free and fair investigation.
He also slammed the EC for not filing an FIR earlier.
“By filing the FIR before the special session, the CEM is doing the right thing at the wrong time,” Shylla said and alleged that the two leaders (Syiem and War) from national parties (Congress and BJP, respectively) are trying to bulldoze weak officials.
To this, Syiem said FIR against Syiemlieh was filed based on the direction of the Governor. Defending the timing of filing the FIR, the CEM said there are no receipts to indicate that the amount was used by him or the EM.
Syiem said with regards to land compensation for the four-lane project in Byrnihat, the former secretary deposited the money in his personal account without the knowledge of the finance department.
He also questioned the bank for transferring the fund in the absence of a resolution.
Blaming Syiemlieh for not following the Council’s financial procedures and treating the council as “his personal corporate house”, he said it was surprising how the probe panel did not find it irregular.
On the verbal order for financial transaction, the Syiem said, “I did my duty by verbally informing the officer what to do. The duty of the officer is to follow financial procedures.”
“Syiemlieh received Rs 1.52 crore, so does it mean that something is wrong with me. Nowhere the officer in his statement has mentioned that he has given the money to me,” Syiem said.
He said the incident will be a lesson and the Council will soon constitute administration and finance reform committees.
Casual staff
On the appointment of casual peons and cleaners, Syiemlieh in his written statement admitted that he was directed by the CEM and other EC members to appoint 13 candidates though there was no budget provision for the same.
To verify the claim, the committee also scrutinised the content of the related file and it was found that some of the application forms contained written instructions to Syiemlieh to appoint the applicants.
Syiem said the officer appointed all of them and paid salary to some of the employees.
Despite his explanation, HSPDP MDC Teilinia Thangkhiew, who was also a member of the House Committee, lambasted the present EC for failing to detect and prevent such irregularities.
Shylla to write book
Former KHADC chief Shylla told the House that he is planning to write a book titled ‘Please Arrange’, which reflects the involvement of the “two political masters” (Syiem and War). He added that the name of Welljune will be changed to “Welldone”.

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