Since April 20, the commission has suspended more than 34 business licenses 

Update: While the former regional director for revenue and customs, Choyzang Tashi, is still under detention for interrogation, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) this week reportedly suspended more than 10 trade and industrial licenses in connection with the ongoing investigation in Phuentsholing.

The commission in exercise of the power conferred by the Anti-Corruption Act 2011 has suspended two licenses of plastic industry and Bhutan Steel Alloy Casting; two beer licenses, three clearing agent licenses and a license each for grocery and cement agent.

This brings to the number of business licenses suspended to 34 since the commission’s probe into the alleged customs mal-administration and entrenched corruption in the fraudulent export and import businesses began on April 20.

The business licenses were suspended after ACC found a prima facie case of corruption.

The ACC on August 4 suspended two licenses of Sonam Beer Agency and UD Beer distributor.  The commission also reportedly detained a woman for operating nine liquor and beer business licenses. Sources say that Choyzang Tashi, who has been detained since July 18, is also being questioned in connection to the Bhutan Steel Alloy Casting case. Sources also said that the former director owns multiple business and trade licenses.

ACC officials earlier said that Choyzang Tashi was detained as the customs mal-administration, corrupt and fraudulent practices were mostly suspected to have started when he was the regional director in Phuentsholing from 2002 to 2007.

He then served as the director for the department of revenue and customs in Thimphu until 2013 before he was transferred as the executive director of Bhutan Health Trust Fund.

During the course of investigation, the commission also detained seven inspectors and customs officials with the regional revenue and customs office for alleged collusion and bribery cases. All officials were released on bail after detaining them for a few days to a month.

The commission was also looking into the fraudulent import and deflection of goods, under invoicing and wrongful declaration of goods, tax evasion and illegal repatriation of INR (Indian rupee) through deflection of zero-tax commodities and producing fake import bills.

The commission has forwarded its findings on one of the customs inspectors to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution.

By Rinzin Wangchuk