ACC releases three BNBL officials

The supervisor’s transfer was extended to six months on family grounds 

Embezzlement: The three Bhutan National Bank Ltd (BNBL) officials who the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) detained for interrogation in connection to the embezzlement of the Nu 91.6 million (M) were released last week.

The three employees were BNBL’s assistant IT officer, assistant credit officer, and a support staff who work at the bank’s Paro branch office. The assistant IT officer who was previously at the Paro branch office was detained for interrogation on July 30 while the other two officials were detained since August 3.

The assistant IT officer is one of the main accused and is suspected to have embezzled more than Nu 50M in collusion with the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd.’s (RICBL) supervisor. The Nu 91.6M belonged to RICBL.

Kuensel also learnt that ACC interrogated a credit officer at BNBL’s Paro branch office last week during which he accepted that he had forged the bank documents. With investigations still on, sources said more BNBL officials were also interrogated.

RICBL’s supervisor, the main suspect traced in Nepal more than a month after he absconded was flown to the country on August 1. He is still detained at the Thimphu police station.

As the embezzlement occurred over three years since 2013, preliminary estimates showed that about Nu 47M were siphoned off in 2013, about Nu 37M in 2014 and about Nu 8M as of April this year.

The embezzlement case came to light only after RICBL’s special audit team was deputed to the Paro branch office on June 10 this year following observations on the supervisor’s luxurious lifestyle. The special audit team was asked to verify the transactions sent to the head office against the bank details during which the discrepancies were found.

RICBL had also carried out an internal audit in 2013 and 2014 after receiving frequent complaints but the discrepancies could not be traced. The same happened with BNBL.

In connection with the case, RICBL suspended its general manager of finance and the internal auditor for failing to conduct their duties since July. This raised eyebrows with no action taken against the Paro branch manager.

Some sources from RICBL said the management did not take administrative action against the branch manager as the former had already surrendered the supervisor but the management did not accept the surrender.

However, RICBL’s executive director Sonam Dorji said the supervisor’s term at the Paro branch office was extended for another six months last yearend on family grounds. “No administrative action was taken against the branch manager as no direct lapses were found,” he said, adding that the manager informed the management about the supervisor’s performance and lifestyle.

Kuensel learnt that initial findings of the embezzlement case indicate a strong collusion between the RICBL and BNBL officials, which has now become a clear case of organised crime that occurred over the three-year period.

Kinga Dema

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