The defendant was asked to refund the cost of six truckloads of sand missing

Verdict:  The Haa dzongkhag court on May 26 acquitted a 31 year-old contractor from two charges that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had framed against him in connection to the ongoing Lhakhang Karpo conservation project case.

Dismissing his charge of active bribery of public servant, the verdict stated that the proprietor of TNW Construction, Tshewang Rinzin, who supplied sand to the project, had not bribed project manager Tashi Gyeltshen but borrowed from the latter.

The OAG charged the duo for soliciting and receiving a bribe of Nu 100,000.  Tshewang Rinzin was charged for bribing Tashi Gyeltshen to accept inferior quality sand collected from the IMTRAT helipad area.  The money was deposited into Tashi Gyeltshen’s account through self-cheque on August 27, 2012 three days after receiving his payment.

Both defendants had admitted that they solicited each other with bribes when Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) officials interrogated them.  However, the duo denied soliciting and receiving a bribe of Nu 100,000 in court.

The verdict stated that the court established that Tshewang Rinzin had borrowed Nu 100,000 from Tashi Gyeltshen, who later retained as security deposit for the un-sieved sand. It stated the prosecutors failed to provide or submit evidence beyond reasonable doubts that both defendants had solicited and received a bribe.

During two cross-examination hearings conducted by the court, Tshewang Rinzin claimed he had extracted 120 truckloads of sand from the riverbanks of the Haachu and kept at the IMTRAT helipad area, less than a kilometer away from the Lhakhang Karpo project site. He then requested Tashi Gyeltshen to pass the bill for 120 trips.

Tashi Gyeltshen claimed that, since the sand was not sieved, he had asked him to claim for 70 trips only.  He returned the security deposit of Nu 100,000 to Tshewang Rinzin, only after the supplier had properly sieved the sand.

However, Tshewang Rinzin said he claimed and received the payment of Nu 705,839 for 70 trucks before sieving the sand.  He also said he borrowed Nu 40,000 from Tashi Gyeltshen to be adjusted at the time of claiming his final bill.  When claiming his final bill, Tashi Gyeltshen told him to deposit Nu 100,000 as security money, which he did, according to Tshewang Rinzin.

The court also dismissed the charge of supplying poor quality sand to the project based on the statement submitted by the mason master, Bim Kumar Rai, who said that Tshewang Rinzin had supplied quality sieved sand. 

The court also established that prior to the supply of sand to the project, the defendant had also extracted and supplied 400 truckloads of sand from the same helipad area for the construction of river protection wall along the Haachu.

While investigating the quality of sand, the anti corruption officials found that the sand was adulterated with foreign materials such as wooden debris and stones. The contract document had specified that the sand supplied was to be well graded, not exceeding more than 4.7mm sieved seize particles and shall not contain any other impurities like silt and acids.

However, ACC’s investigators found that the sand collected was not sieved as per the specification of the contract. Tashi Gyeltshen had not objected nor initiated and tested in any laboratory for technical approvals.  The OAG prosecutors also submitted to the court that the project engineer had passed the bill on August 24, 2012 before supplying the sand. The prosecutors, therefore, requested the court to restitute Nu 705,839 from the supplier for supplying inferior quality of sand.

However, the court has directed the defendant to deposit Nu 60,500 for six truckloads of sand to the project account within 10 days of passing the judgment. Tshewang Rinzin claimed that he supplied 70 truckloads of sand but was able to produce only 64 tokens. The project had issued tokens every time they received a truckload of sand.

Tshewang Rinzin was awarded the work to supply sand to the Lhakhang Karpo project on July 9, 2012. The last 10 truckloads of sand were supplied on March 15, 2013.

By Rinzin Wangchuk, Haa