Investigation: Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is investigating an alleged involvement of Member of Parliament Novin Darlami in a fake Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd (REDCL) office in Tsirang.

The government established REDCL after shutting down the controversial Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC). REDCL was to continue providing credits to rural people through the revolving fund II of the economic stimulus plan.

The MP allegedly had deputed a person to function as REDCL official in Damphu. The person in-charge had informed the applicants that REDCL branch office in place of BOiC has been established in Tsirang and asked them to apply for loan.

The office in Damphu had allegedly distributed loan application forms to the public of Tsirang and Dagana dzongkhags and collected Nu 300 as fees.

It is suspected that the office charged additional fees for filling forms for the applicants. Applicants had to make number of visits to the office in Tsirang to complete the forms as the person in-charge had allegedly asked them to bring identity card or lagthram copies.

REDCL officials visited Tsirang to conduct an investigation between December 20 and 22. The investigation concluded that the complaints were baseless.

REDCL’s report submitted to ACC stated that a man called Tshewang established a cooperative office called Integrated Farming and Food Processing Project (IFFPP).

“The office was basically inviting individuals as the members of the IFFPP. The intention was to form the cooperative with as many members as possible and apply for the funding assistance from REDCL,” the report stated. At the time of investigation, it was found that as many as 450 members had applied for membership.

The REDCL team learnt that the cooperative was actively engaged in membership drive.

“A scribbled hand written signage REDCL was also imprinted on the paper signboard at the top of the cooperative signage which is also hand-written on paper at the office door of IFFPP,” the REDCL report stated.

Tshewang told REDCL officials that he was unaware of the scribbled (word) REDCL as he was never in the office.

Two Class XII dropout individuals working as volunteer employees, he claimed, conducted the official chores.

Tshewang said that he learnt that some of his clients who came to apply for the membership wrote REDCL on the door.

The Nu 300 fee was levied as membership fee of the cooperative. “The investigation revealed that the form (distributed) was entirely different from that of REDCL Fund Application Form,” REDCL report stated.

The cooperative never operated as the branch office of REDCL, nor was the fee collected was for that of REDCL application form, the REDCL officials reported.

Kuensel learnt from dzongkhag officials that a plan to form an Integrated Farming and Food Processing Project is with Tsirang dzongkhag administration, but there is no legitimate office established for the project.

ACC commissioner Jamtsho said that the commission will need to gather additional information. “We’ll send our people soon,” he said.

Tshering Palden