Anti-Corruption Commission recommends persecution of former FCBL manager and restitution of Nu 2.519M

Corruption: The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has implicated three men, including a former manager, for the alleged embezzlement of property and shortage of food grains amounting to more than Nu 2.519 million from the bulk depot, Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL), in Phuentsholing.

ACC’s investigation found that the former manager of food grains, Champay, despite his many counter allegations against the FCBL management, was responsible for shortages of stock worth Nu 2.519 million. Champay was alleged to have manipulated inventory records in the system to conceal the shortage, particularly on sugar, which formed a major portion of the missing items.

In one instance, he booked false credit sales of 36 metric tonnes (MT) of sugar to Drangchu Beverages on January 3, 2013 and the same credit memo was deleted from the system on March 2. In another case, he was also alleged to have faked 15MT of sugar worth Nu 0.472 which was reflected as credit sales to Nand Kumar & Sons in Phuentsholing on January 23, 2012. During the internal audit, he and his son had discreetly arranged cash and persuaded the vendor to deposit money to FCBL.

In his statement to the ACC, Yogendra Gupta of Nand Kumar & Sons said that the firm had never made that particular purchase and do not have any credit outstanding with FCBL as of April 17, 2013. However, he admitted that Tshering Dorji requested him to clear the outstanding due of Nu 320,000 since it was reflected as credit outstanding balance in the name of his firm.

Tshering Dorji stated that he made the deposit because the money belonged to the government and had to be deposited. “This act proves that Tshering Dorji willfully acted to conceal his father’s wrongdoing,” the report states.

Although Champay was relieved from service through superannuation from September 1, 2012, his service was extended on contract for one year.  However, his contract was terminated and he was relieved after six months. He was supposed to hand over the charges of the bulk depot to the successor on February 28, 2013 but could not, as abnormal figures were evident in the system report related to stock amounting to Nu 2.526M and a shortage of 36MT of sugar.  The management accused him of manipulating the FCBL stock inventory system.

Champay disagreed with the shortage figure calculated by the FCBL investigation team as there were discrepancies in the Drukfood Inventory System. ACC’s investigation detected that the significant variation in sugar inventory was caused by one particular entry. The credit sale of 36MT of sugar was issued in the name of Drangchu Beverages, which had never purchased the suger. It was found that the credit sale of 36MT was inserted through the user ID number of Champay in the computer server at the bulk depot.

He denied deleting the particular transaction and stated that he does not have data computation system knowledge. The commission discovered that bulk server computer was kept in the office of Champay under his lock and key.

The Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) annual report of 2015 also pointed out that the credit sale of 36,000 kilogrammes of sugar worth Nu 1.280M was issued to Drangchu Beverages and the same was deleted from the system. “Such irregularities had occurred primarily due to inadequate organisational & operational IT security controls in place and lack of proper monitoring of the system, thereby leaving room for manipulation of the system data,” the RAA report stated.

The RAA, while reviewing the consolidated stock movement of all locations, also found food grain shortages valued at Nu 3.315M. The auditee responded that the FCBL ICT division does not do any such deletions or corrections deliberately and intentionally unless the user notifies the division as either user entry mistakes or double entries in the system due to oversights.

The commission implicated Champay for two counts of embezzlement of property, three counts of tampering with public records and false claims. Tshering Dorji and Yogandra Gupta were recommended to be charged for aiding and abetting the crime.

The ACC’s referral report forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) this month for prosecution also stated that Champay is liable for restitution of more than Nu 2.519M to the FCBL and he is also liable for 24 percent penal interest per annum on Nu 320,000, which amounted to Nu 90,687.

Tshering Dorji lodged a walk-in complaint with the ACC alleging the FCBL management of unethical practices and stated that the 36MT of fictitious credit sales of sugar, was blamed on his father as he was nearing retirement.

The FCBL management forwarded its investigation report on September 9, 2013 alleging that Champay is suspected misappropriation of food inventories from the bulk depot.

Tshering Dorji said he was shocked to know ACC’s investigation findings, which came otherwise. “If I had known that my father was committing a crime I would have never gone to ACC calling for investigation,” he told Kuensel. “I have failed to understand how ACC has not been able to find any flaws with the FCB  system when the FCB IT head has accepted that there was a loophole in the inventory system and submitted his explanation to RAA.”

Rinzin Wangchuk