Tashi Dema and Tshering Palden

Umling drungkhag and gewog accountant in Gelephu had allegedly misappropriated more than Nu 6.9M from the drungkhag and gewog budget.

Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) preliminary audit observation revealed the accountant had misappropriated more than Nu 3.9M from the budget to construct permanent structures in the drungkhag and blacktopping the drungkhag road.

He had also allegedly misappropriated Nu 585,000 on February 6 last year from the budget to construct staff quarter.  On that same day, he misappropriated Nu 65,503 from the budget for site development works at the drungkhag.

He was accused of siphoning Nu 277,843, which was paid as advance for guest visit.

The modus operandi for all the illegal transactions was the same, as the accountant had booked the amounts as expenditure and transferred it from the electronic public expenditure management system (ePEMS) to his personal account.

“The disbursement voucher was prepared, verified, approved and authorised by the accountant single-handedly,” audit observation stated.

RAA had asked the drungkhag administration to recover the funds and also impose penalty and take action against the accountant as per the law.

The accountant was alleged to have misappropriated more than Nu 1.2M from July last year to February this year from the gewog’s budget.

He was accused of transferring Nu 130,000 to another person and later of siphoning the money, transferring Nu 491,001 from gewog account to his own personal account.  But he later adjusted Nu 491,001 with payments from the gewog’s budget for rural water supply scheme material procurement.

The accountant was also alleged to have transferred Nu 640,069 from the gewog’s account to his account, but later deposited the amount in the gewog’s account when auditing was conducted.

RAA pointed out that the misappropriations occurred as the accountant operated the letter of credit (LC) account independently without checks and balances. “There was also lack of monitoring over the gewog budget and expenditure, which facilitated most of the payments at the convenience of accountant and embezzlements of funds.”

It had also asked the gewog to take appropriate action and consider imposing penalty for the temporary misuse of funds.

Umling drungkhag officials said they received the audit memo and have made the accountant repay the principal amount he misappropriated.

An official explained the accountant misappropriated the funds by deceiving authorities. “Since he had the authority to do all the transactions independently, it would have been difficult to notice the embezzlement.”

He said the accountant would also be made to pay interest for the funds misappropriated. “We forwarded the case to the dzongkhag human resource committee.”