ACC nabs kingpin in ATM fraud

Meanwhile, more than 50 Bhutanese ATM cardholders have been interrogated 

Corruption: In continuation to the ongoing investigations, the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) has detained one more Bhutanese, the kingpin, in connection with the illegal transaction of currency using Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards in Phuentsholing.

The commission has reportedly detained an employee of Punatshangchu project, after he was found involved in a racket of ATM cards being used to divert Indian Rupee (INR) from Bhutan. He was reportedly involved as a facilitator for the project’s employees in diverting the INR.

On August 20, the ACC detained Sanjeev Kumar Gupta, 32, from Jaigaon for possessing 286 Bhutanese ATM cards.

Sanjeev Kumar Gupta, who is still under detention, admitted to using the ATM cards to withdraw Rupee from Jaigaon. He then sold the Rupee at 7.5 to 8 percent above the exchange rate and paid five percent commission to ATM cardholders. His monthly transaction amounted to INR 2.86 million with a monthly income of INR 0.3 million.

In an earlier interview, ACC officials said that the 20 ATM cardholders had taken out INR 9.9 million this year. As of yesterday, more than 50 Bhutanese cardholders were interrogated. The commission is also reportedly looking into the possible collusion among officials from the bank, trade and revenue and customs officials with the importers.

“It is going to take sometime to interrogate all ATM card holders,” an ACC commissioner said. The Bhutanese account holders will be charged for active and passive commercial bribery and for aiding and abetting the crime.

The commission, which launched an investigation since April 20 into the complex issues of money laundering, uncovered millions of INR repatriated through such fraudulent practices over the past three years.

ACC also found that some non-Bhutanese in connivance with Bhutanese clearing agents have forged and tampered Bhutanese customs documents and repatriated millions of INR by ways of real time gross settlement (RTGS), demand draft (DD) and telegraph transfer (TT).

Meanwhile, the owner of the Jatan Prasad Lal Chand Prasad (JPLP) departmental store, Lal Chand, is still in custody. Lal Chand was detained by the ACC since June 17 for evading tax through false invoicing and declaration amounting to more than Nu 184M. Lal Chand’s case along with other four enterprises was registered with the Phuentsholing dungkhag court on September 4.

A Thimphu based businessman said last evening that bribery is still rampant in Phuentsholing and happening right under the ACC’s nose. He said that he had to pay Nu 45,000 to a middleman to clear his goods imported from India recently.

“ACC director is sitting in one room interrogating a suspect and bribery is taking place in the other room,” he said. “These are happening because they are taking advantage of so many loopholes in the tax administration,” he said. “The system needs to be streamlined.”

Meanwhile, ACC will auction the remaining grocery goods worth Nu 15M from the eight business entities on September 18 followed by hardware goods. More than Nu 16M worth of goods were auctioned earlier on August 31 and September 1.

Rinzin Wangchuk 

2 replies
  1. yagbar
    yagbar says:

    First it was the land scam then came the Tax scam, now what next? who is to be blamed? ACC alone cannot curb corruption unless there is strong political will and administrative back up to plug in the loopholes. Nevertheless the government of the day should be fair enough to punish those guilty no matter who they are and which political background they come from. People wonder what is happening to the multi million land scam of Thimphu involving the notorious land mafia. Or is the government of the day trying to brush it under the carpet after Dasho Aum Neten left ACC? Kuensel please update”THAT THE PEOPLE SHALL BE INFORMED”

  2. logical
    logical says:

    A Thimphu based businessman said last evening that bribery is still rampant in Phuentsholing and happening right under the ACC’s nose. He said that he had to pay Nu 45,000 to a middleman to clear his goods imported from India recently.

    “ACC director is sitting in one room interrogating a suspect and bribery is taking place in the other room,” he said. “These are happening because they are taking advantage of so many loopholes in the tax administration,” he said. “The system needs to be streamlined.”

    It would be WELCOME if the stated LOOPHOLES in the TAX ADMINISTRATION SYSTEM are first addressed instead of keeping them and witch hunting people drawn by temptations to gain from the services. Moreover, closing the gap between IC and BC will narrow down ACC’s scope of probing into more focused area and keep things manageable with fewer staff.

    People availing the services that are legally right are not solely to be blamed for the repatriation of IC. Government formulating and applying the rules and policies through direct administration has greater responsibility to guard national interest. It is morally wrong to accuse petty individuals of crime beyond the scope of their caliber, merely for availing legally permitted services.

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