The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) after investigating for more than 18 months increased the alleged embezzlement amount of the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan’s (RICBL) Nu 91.6M (million) embezzlement case from Paro branch office to Nu 141M.
OAG charged 22 people for involvement in the case to the Paro dzongkhag court yesterday.
In the miscellaneous hearing yesterday, OAG charged the main accused, Rinchen Wangdi, for 234 counts of embezzlement, 58 counts of forgery and 33 counts for participation in an offence and another 226 counts for tampering documents.
The crimes were graded second-degree felony, third-degree felony, and misdemeanour.
OAG also submitted before the court that Rinchen Wangdi, who worked as RICBL’s branch office supervisor then, should reinstitute more than Nu 68M. The amount, according to the prosecutor is subject to change once the seized assets are auctioned and the money he lent to people are refunded.
It was submitted before the court that Rinchen Wangdi had lend more than Nu 2.5M.
OAG’s charges stated that Rinchen Wangdi bought four vehicles, including a Santa Fe and two plots measuring 30 and 38 decimals in Paro and Gelephu from the money he siphoned from RICBL within a period of more than fours years. “All the properties registered in his name were not allowed for the transaction after the crime surfaced.”
The issue surfaced in June 2015 after RICBL deputed a special audit team to the Paro branch office following observations on the supervisor’s luxurious lifestyle. It was found that employees from Bhutan National Bank (BNBL) allegedly colluded to “fudge” bank statements while withdrawing the RICBL’s account through forged signatures.
The second main accused, Yoezer Dema, who works as an information technology (IT) assistant with the Bhutan National Bank Limited (BNBL) was charged with 37 counts of participation in an offence, 27 counts of tampering documents and concealment of corrupt practices.
OAG prosecutor submitted to the court that she is liable to third-degree felony for the participation in the offences and fourth-degree for concealment of corrupt practice and a misdemeanor for tampering bank documents.
It was found that Yoezer Dema, with her IT skills, helped Rinchen Wangdi to make fictitious bank statements.
OAG prosecutors submitted that Rinchen Wangdi and Yoezer Dema worked together after she knew his acts.
She was accused of knowingly helping Rinchen Wangdi to embezzle money while she used RICBL’s cheques and her family members to withdraw more than Nu 51M.
Prosecutors also stated that although Yoezer Dema refunded Nu 16M, she should reinstitute Nu 34M.
The charges stated that Rinchen Wangdi continued to manipulate the funds and signature in the cheques printed using a soft copy given to him by Yoezer Dema after she got transferred to Phuntsholing.
Rinchen Wangdi was accused of forging more than 52 signatures in the course of the crime.
Prosecutors also requested the court to look into the possibility of imposing 15 percent interest rate for Rinchen Wangdi and Yoezer Dema.
BNBL’s assistant credit officer, Pema Wangda, was charged with a fourth-degree felony for participation in an offence and with a third-degree felony for the omission of an official function.
OAG prosecutors alleged that he failed to cross-check the cheque as a teller of the bank. He is also asked to reinstitute Nu 500,000.
OAG charged BNBL’s credit officer, Choedup Drukpa, for concealment of corrupt practices. He has sold land to Rinchen Wangdi in accordance to the Anti Corruption Commission’s (ACC) Act and asked to restitute 100,000.
OAG charged an employee of Tashiling resort in Paro, Karma Tshering, for concealment of corrupt practice, alleging that he refused to share information on the Nu 2.7M that was withdrawn in his name. OAG prosecutor alleged that he confessed to borrowing Nu 500,000 from Rinchen Wangdi.
OAG charged RICBL’s assistant development officer, Heruka, for embezzlement of public fund in accordance with the ACC Act and the Negotiable Instrument Act of Bhutan 2000. He was alleged of signing on the company’s cheque and he asked to restitute Nu 1.5M.
OAG also charged RICBL’s employee, Yeshi Dorji, with official misconduct, alleging that he failed to detect the crime.
OAG also charged eight tellers of BNBL and one authorizer and a banking in-charge with omission amounting to an abuse of function. The officials were charged on for failing to carry their duties.
Meanwhile, the preliminary hearing of the case will be conducted in the next 10 days.
Tashi Tenzin | Paro