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ACC charges two for collusion and bribery in modern hatchery

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has implicated a public servant and a businessman for corrupt practices in supply, installation of the modern hatchery in National Integrated Livestock Farm (NILF), in Samrang, Samgdrupjongkhar.

The commission’s findings concerning collusion, bribery and disproportionate asset against the senior livestock production officer of Department of Livestock (DoL), Tshewang Tashi, was forwarded to the Office of Attorney General (OAG) on December 27 for probable prosecution.

ACC’s investigation established that the chief executive officer of Sai Trading Partner (STP), Samten, paid Nu 1 million to Tshewang Tashi after getting the payment for installation of layer equipment in Relangthang, Sarpang. The investigation found that the payment was a “sweetening process” to steer and secure the next contract in the pipeline – supply, installation, and erection of modern hatchery.

The investigation found that DoL under Accelerated Livestock Development Programme (ALDP) had initiated 11 meat production projects in the fiscal year 2014-15. The government with the budget of Nu 675.72M funded these projects.

Under broad classification, two of the projects under ALDP included poultry farm in Sarpang with a proposed budget of Nu 71.68M and Broiler Parent Stock Farm with a hatchery in Samrang with a proposed budget of Nu 72.88M.

Tshewang Tashi is alleged to have shared privilege information about the project to Samten soon after he was bribed with Nu 1M.  Samten then explored the hatchery market and received a technical specification of the hatchery equipment from a Canadian company called Jamesway Incubator Company and the drawings of the hatchery from Dhuma Metal Pvt. Ltd.

The report stated that Samten then submitted the technical specifications and the drawings to Tshewang Tashi in a USB drive.

The investigation confirmed that the technical specification and the drawing given by Samten to Tshewang Tashi appeared in the Standard Bidding Document (SBD) of DoL for the hatchery project. The comparative study of the two documents proved that minute details of the specifications shared by Samten with Tshewang Tashi matched with the technical specifications in SBD.

The investigation also established through other corroborative evidence like chat conversation, text messages, and tender documents of STP that collusion between the duo started almost a year before notice inviting the tender.

The commission’s probe also confirmed that it was the mastermind of Tshewang Tashi, who is the poultry expert in DoL and looks after all the poultry projects under the department, to secure the contract for STP for Nu 1M he received from Samten.

Tshewang Tashi agreed to having received the money but told ACC that he borrowed the money to buy a car. The investigators asked him to produce a copy of agreement if the money was borrowed which he could not.

ACC found that the work on supply and installation of layer equipment in Relangthang was awarded to the lowest and the lone bidder STP at the evaluated bid of Nu 1.286M.

During the investigation, ACC found that DoL had made payment of Nu 5.203M to STP for the installation of equipment and for completion of six sheds on April 11, 2016.

ACC also found that Tshewang Tashi established Youth Business Cooperative (YBC) in the guise of helping the unemployed youth. He personally invested Nu 1.522M in cash and others in kind in the cooperative and profited with Nu 0.682M from his investment.

“Despite Tshewang Tashi being an active civil servant, the commission ascertained that he is the incognito owner of YBC,” the report submitted to the OAG stated.

The investigation also unveiled cash deposits in the four bank accounts operated by Tshewang Tashi. From this, Tshewang Tashi said that over Nu 16.5M was sent from New York by his siblings.

Considering the amount that Tshewang Tashi alleged was sent to him by his siblings, the commission gave the benefit of the doubt and considered all the conditions under which USD could be sent and deposited.

“However, Tshewang Tashi could not account the source of over Nu 6.7M deposited into his accounts,” the report stated. “The investigation found that it is beyond the scope of a civil servant in his position to possess such huge amount of money in the bank accounts.”

The commission recommended the OAG to charge Tshewang Tashi for passive bribery of public servants, possession of unexplained wealth, and false declaration with the view to conceal.

Samten is recommended to be charged for active bribery of public servant.

The investigation was launched after the commission received an anonymous complaint against Tshewang Tashi on October 11, 2016. The commission also received an additional anonymous complaint on December 26, 2017 and May 7 this year.

Rinzin Wangchuk

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