ECB receptionist also alleged for aiding and abetting crime

ACC: A messenger of the Bhutan Post was implicated in an embezzlement and fraud case involving Nu 5.10 million (M) by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). The case was forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General last week.

The commission has alleged the messenger, Lhawang Tshering, for falsely claiming and embezzling a total of Nu 5.106M from Local Urgent Mail (LUM) offices. Of the total amount he alleged to have embezzled, Nu 4.991M was from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) .

Lhawang Tshering was assigned to deliver messenger services to ECB, Bhutan InfoCom and Media Authority (BICMA), United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE), among others.

The ACC investigation revealed that between mid 2011 to January 2015, Lhawang Tshering, on 44 instances, withheld actual bills raised by Bhutan Post to the ECB and replaced with falsified bills inflated by 80 to 90 percent. He was said to have used blank triplicate copy from the used bill books and the inflation was mainly done on the Ordinary Letter (OL) services.

The actual bills raised by Bhutan Post for the same period was found to be only Nu 0.638M where as the total claim booked with the ECB grossed to a staggering Nu 5.629M.

The ACC investigation also discovered that the ECB receptionist, Kinzang Choden, was also involved in accommodating Lhawang Tshering to process falsified bills, and in return, she frequently received kickbacks from him.

Both the accused confessed to their crimes.

The commission charged Kinzang Choden for aiding and abetting the crime. Officials from Bhutan Post and ECB said that  both the accused were suspended from their services.

In the case of other LUM agencies like BICMA, DAHE and UNESCO, Lhawang Tshering was alleged to have manipulated duplicate copy of the money receipts to inflate the actual service charges. The total embezzled amount from these agencies during the same period amounted to Nu 0.115M.

Bhutan Post provides LUM services to 40 agencies within Thimphu through written service contracts. Among many categories of services, LUM includes OL services subscribed by many clients in and around Thimphu. As part of the value added service, Bhutan Post allows credit facilities to its LUM agencies, which form bulk of its customer base. Customers are allowed to settle payments on periodic billing cycle.

On the administration front, each Bhutan Post messenger is designated to handle a group of agencies.

Bhutan Post chief executive officer, Karma Wangdi, said that the management came to know of the case while auditors of Royal Audit Authority (RAA) carried out audit of ECB office. Lhawang Tshering has been with Bhutan Post since March 2003.

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) referred the case to the commission, which then began investigation in August last year.

Rinzin Wangchuk