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Two women working for Bhutan Development Bank Limited’s (BDBL) Tsirang branch were alleged of embezzling public funds amounting to more than Nu 17 million (M).

BDBL tellers embezzle more than Nu 17M

Tashi Dema

Two women working for Bhutan Development Bank Limited’s (BDBL) Tsirang branch were alleged of embezzling public funds amounting to more than Nu 17 million (M).

The women, who were working as tellers, embezzled the money in a span of seven years from 2012 to March 2019.

The BDBL management first reported the case to police on March 5 this year, alleging the two tellers of unauthorised cash withdrawals from clients’ saving accounts.

As police conducted preliminary investigation detaining the two suspects, the bank also forwarded the case to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for investigation.

ACC’s investigation revealed that the two women issued fake deposit receipts to customers without crediting into accounts and thereby pocketing the cash given for deposit.

As tellers, the two women were responsible for handling customers’ financial transaction like accepting retail or commercial deposits, loan repayments, process checking and withdrawals. Their duties also included cash counting, answering queries, filling deposit slips and paperwork, balancing cash at the end of the day.

It was found that they also forged customers’ signatures on numerous occasions to withdraw money from the accounts.

“Whenever the customers whose accounts had been manipulated came for withdrawals, the duo either filled the account or reinstated the balance by transferring amount from some other client’s accounts or simply used cash deposits of other clients,” the ACC’s investigation report stated. “In this way, they were able to conceal their wrongdoing year after year until some clients detected the irregularity and alerted the bank.”

It also stated that the two women targeted people who were illiterate.

One woman joined BDBL in 2011 after completing a Diploma in Commercial accounting and the other joined the company in May 2012.

ACC forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on October 7, charging the tellers for violating section 52 (1) and (2) of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011 for embezzling public funds and section 296 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004 for forging bank records in pursuit of obtaining corrupt gains.

ACC stated that the fraudulent conduct of the two tellers not only defrauded and deprived hard-earned savings of rural people, but also caused damage to the reputation of the bank with the primary mandate to uplift the economic conditions of the rural population.

The two officials are on bail after being detained for 33 days.

OAG is reviewing the case.

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