253 counts of charges in Gelephu dungpa’s case

ACC to forward its investigation report to OAG within a week

Corruption: The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has finalised its investigation on one of the biggest embezzlement and fraud cases in the country in recent years.

The 500-page report with evidence implicates 253 counts of charges against Gelephu dungpa Pema Wangdi and six accomplices, including the dungkhag administrative officer and three engineers.

Majority of charges are against dungpa Pema Wangdi.  The report will be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution within a week, according to ACC officials.

ACC reportedly took about five months to compile the investigation report, with evidence collected from a Hilux load of documents.

One of the charges against the dungpa is the alleged embezzlement of millions of ngultrums.  He was alleged to have siphoned Nu 10.637M, a fund generated from Losel Cinema hall in Gelephu town; Nu 1.388M by claiming fictitious expenditure on account of maintenance work of cinema hall, and misuse of about Nu 0.12M, which the dungkhag office had received as compensation for dismantling a bakery affected by town planning in Gelephu thromde.

The other charges against the dungpa are the fraudulent award of contract works.  Dungpa Pema Wangdi had allegedly awarded three contract works to construction firms without floating tenders.

ACC officials had established that the dungpa awarded renovation work of Gelephu tshachu (hot spring) worth Nu 1.350M to four contractors, who were believed to be his and his son’s friends and acquaintances.  The tender documents were submitted later and some documents were forged.  Awarding works of renovation of Nu 1.2M Gelephu crematorium, and re-roofing of Nu 1.6M cinema hall followed the same modus operandi.

ACC in August last year suspended trade and contract licenses of seven construction firms allegedly indulged in fraudulent tendering process, following an investigation on complaints lodged against the dungpa.

The suspended licenses belonged to Jigson Construction of Wamrong, Trashigang, T. Dradul Construction in Nganglam, Pemagatshel, PKDS Construction in Tsholingkhar, Tsirang, Ugyen Gyeltshen Construction in Radhi, Trashigang, Kholo Construction and Pelden Lhamo Construction, both in Sarpang, and Dangpeng Construction in Trashiyangtse.

In the same month, ACC also froze three plots in Phuentsholing and Gelephu from any transaction.  These plots were allegedly transacted by the dungpa on 50 percent commission.

ACC officials began investigation on June 13 last year after receiving several complaints against the dungpa, who has been suspended since June 23, after they found a prima facie case of corruption and embezzlement.

In the process of investigation, ACC officials recovered Nu 3.401M from dungpa’s residence in Gelephu.  ACC officials also reportedly investigated the controversial Tokay gecko case.

Administrative assistant Sonam Norbu is also charged with aiding and abetting the alleged crime and embezzlement.  The Royal Audit Authority (RAA), while auditing the financial status of Losel cinema and other related works, also found that the dungpa and dungkhag administrative assistant, who was also the Losel cinema hall in-charge, have misused and embezzled more than Nu 10.63M, after winning a legal battle with the State Bank of Sikkim.

The auditors revealed huge deficiencies and lapses of serious nature, manipulation of records, submission of fictitious expenditure on repair and maintenance of cinema hall, and unaccounted funds.

By Rinzin Wangchuk

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