The commission’s net around the web of corruption tightens

Corruption: After sealing eight shops and 13 warehouses in Phuentsholing town since their investigation began on April 20, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday suspended eight business licenses.

The business licenses of DP Tshongkhang, Rigsum Enterprise, Choney Tshongkhang, Gyalse Nadin Ventures, Rigsel Enterprise, Dorji Wangmo Tshongkhang, Udee Ticketing Agent and Udee Clearing Agent and Dhaka Sales, all in Phuentsholing, were suspended with immediate effect after the commission found a prima facie case of corruption.

It stated that the notice would remain effective until further order from the commission.

An ACC official said that the commission usually suspended trade or business firm licenses or detained people after establishing facts of their fraudulent and corrupt practices.  The Anti Corruption Act 2011 mandates and empowers the commission, upon finding of a prima facie case of corruption, to suspend a license or prohibit an individual or entity, whether national or foreign, from participating in contractual relations with public agencies till the outcome of the case.

Sources said that the main reason for suspending eight business licenses was related to the evasion of tax through under declaration of imported goods.  Some business licenses, such as the Udee ticketing agencies and Udee clearing agent, reportedly have serious conflict of interest, as both the businesses were run by a customs official’s family members.

As of yesterday, the ACC had frozen nine saving accounts, including two fixed deposits, which belong to five individuals and a business firm.

Two flats in Phuentsholing and two plots in Dagana and Phuentsholing gewog were also frozen against any transactions.

The commission has reportedly released from detention all 11 people, including four customs officials, after interrogating them in connection to fraudulent export and import businesses, which integrated into a spider web of tax evasion, over pricing and under pricing in Phuentsholing.

Kuensel also learnt that the commission has reportedly detained few more people over the past few days, in connection to the ongoing investigation on entrenched corruption.

Sources said that the ACC was also looking into the modus operandi of repatriation of INR through deflection of zero-tax commodities, such as rice, sugar and oil.  It was also reported in one of the ACC reports that people produced fake receipts of importing rice to claim rupee exchange.

According to the food import figures, reflected in the Royal Monetary Authority’s (RMA) annual report, it had reached Nu 6.2 billion (B), almost equivalent to the total net earning made by the hydropower sector in a year.

It was reported that RMA’s value of rice import translates to 50,000 metric tonnes, while the agriculture ministry’s calculation found out that Bhutan was required to import only 21,000 metric tonnes a year.


By Rinzin Wangchuk