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Two sentenced in fraudulent INR repatriation case

Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench II sentenced a former Druk Punjab National Bank (PNB) employee to three years in prison for fraudulent repatriation of Indian Rupee (INR) from 2012 to 2014.

According to the October 2 judgement, the former senior executive of Druk PNB, Kinley Penjor, from Goensa in Toebisa, Punakha, let a vegetable supplier from Jaigaon in India, Pramod Shah, to import vegetables using his business licence ‘Kinxin Vegetable and Fruits’ and also opened two current accounts in the name of his wife Tenzin Yangdon to assist the businessman.

He was found guilty of 68 counts of forging his wife’s signature, 33 counts of passive bribery by a public official and abuse of function.

The court ruled that as a senior official of Druk PNB, the repatriation of INR illegally from the bank to India contravened the ‘Operational Guidelines for Indian Rupee Transaction’ Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) issued in 2012 to curb the INR crisis in the country then.

The court ordered him to restitute Nu 40.6 million (M) he forged, took as a bribe and misused within six months after the judgment was rendered to the government.

The Jaigaon-based businessman, Pramod Shah, 39, from Jalpaiguri, India, who owns Kailash Vegetables in Phuentsholing, was sentenced to three years in prison for 267 counts of forgery, tampering of documents and 33 counts of active bribery of a public official.

He was found guilty of using several Bhutanese licenses and individuals’ names to import vegetables from India. He used invoices, which are actually allowed to use only once for remittance, several times, used grocery and medical invoices to remit INR.

Pramod Shah was also found guilty of inconspicuously setting up a financial conduit where Bhutanese currency circulating in Jaigoan was in his friends and relatives’ businesses were brought back to the Bhutanese banking system by making them deposit the money in his accounts and it was later remitted in the form of demand drafts (DD) and telegraph transfer (TT) to India from Thimphu.

The court ordered him to restitute Nu 114.5M to the government as per section 10.1 of the RMA’s ‘Operational Guidelines for Indian Rupee Transaction’.

The court, however, deferred the judgement against Bom Bahadur Rai, 44, from Biru in Samtse, who owns Sampang Tshongkhag in Thimphu.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged him for 19 counts of participation in the offence as he allowed Pramod Shah to import vegetables by using his licence and two bank accounts.

The court ruled that the prosecutor could not prove how he benefitted by allowing Pramod Shah to use his accounts.

The court ordered the cancellation of business licences of Kinxin Vegetables and Fruits belonging, Kinxin Electronics belonging to Tenzin Yangdon, Kailash Vegetables and Sampang Tshongkhang. The owners were imposed a fine of Nu 10,000 each.

Tashi Dema

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