The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), while forwarding the investigation report of the labour ministry’s alleged collusion and bribery of the overseas employment program in India, stated that the former minister, Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, and the incumbent director general Sherab Tenzin engaged in unethical practices that amount to corruption.

The case was reported to Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in November 2017.

The allegations outline the existence of collusion and bribery between officials of Department of Employment and Human Resources (DoEHR), particularly Sherab Tenzin, the incumbent Director General (DG) and Manav Dhingra, the head of operations for International Institute of Hospitality and Wellness Studies (IIWS), Greater Noida, India and underscores that IIWS has been bagging tenders repeatedly for training and placements of Bhutanese youth in India.

Manav Dhingra is also accused of bribing and giving expensive gifts to labour ministry officials in Thimphu.

The investigation report, which was sent to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) yesterday stated that the then minister, despite being a public servant, had solicited and accepted investments amounting to INR 3 million(M) from Manav Dhingra to set up a partnership business, M/s. Tshomo Hiring through the use of proxies or front, which otherwise is an illegitimate business.

“Such conduct was in conflict with his public position as the then labour minister since Manav Dhingra, who manages IIWS is a training and placement contractor of MoLHR, who not only does or seeks to do business with MoLHR but also is regulated by MoLHR,” the investigation report stated.

It also stated that former Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, despite being the real beneficial owner of M/s. Tshomo Hiring, deliberately made a false declaration with a view to conceal his asset (excavator), income (hiring income) and liabilities (BNBL loan for excavator) in his asset declaration for the year 2017.

He was also alleged of soliciting and accepting a gemstone worth INR 85,000 and Rudraksh rosary worth INR 71,983 from Manav Dhingra, who is a prohibited source.

ACC claimed that Sherab Tenzin, despite being a civil servant, solicited and accepted assistance from Manav Dhingra in arranging as well as partly financing the procurement and transporting of a napkin papermaking machine and materials for the purpose of setting up his son’s business, M/s. Jana Tissues.

It stated that in order to set up his son’s business, Sherab Tenzin not only sought financial assistance to the tune of over Nu 589,000 from a foreign source but also engaged in conduct that was in conflict with his position as the director general of DoEHR.

“Such conduct was in conflict with his position and despite such conflict, Sherab Tenzin failed to declare any conflict of interest he had with Manav Dhingra and participated as a member of the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) on September 30, 2016,” it stated.

ACC stated that the former minister shall be liable for one count of the offence of false declaration for concealing his asset (excavator), income (hiring income) and liabilities (BNBL loan for excavator) in his asset declaration for the year 2017.

The commission also stated that Sherab Tenzin shall be liable for one count of the offence of failure to declare a conflict of interest he had with Manav Dhingra and participating as a member of the MTC where IIWS was one of the winning bidders.

ACC also stated that Sherab Tenzin had developed a relationship beyond the professional one with Manav Dhingra, to the extent that he used to send his son to pick Manav Dhingra from the airport.

He was also accused of seeking assistance from Manav Dhingra regarding the arrangement of pocket money to his son, who was then studying in South Delhi.

Manav Dhingra confessed to giving gifts like pens, cell phones and watches valued below INR 9,000 to MoLHR staff.

The Commission, in accordance with Section 131 of ACAB 2011, also recommended for restitution of the intermingled corruption proceeds up to its assessed value, which is the subject matter of the corruption offence.

The assets were a Kotmatsu Excavator PC 210 bearing registration no. BP-2A-5174 under the registered ownership of Pema Tshomo Sherpa, M/s. Tshomo Hiring, Thimphu (Assessed Value Nu. 3M, napkin papermaking machine and materials under the custody of Tshewang Norbu, M/s. Pelri Tissues, Paro (Assessed Value Nu 589,000).

Meanwhile, the report stated that between 2010 and 2017, the MoLHR had sent 1,224 youth to India under the programme. A majority of these youth were trained and placed in various firms in India by IIWS. Other institutes that trained and placed the youths were Alfresco Solution LLP and Fitciti Technology Private Limited. Similarly, in 2016, 360 Bhutanese youth were trained and placed by two training institutes based in Thimphu, Bhutan namely Best Placement Agency and Bhutan School for Hospitality and Tourism.

Tashi Dema