Both defendants submitted conflicting statements yesterday against their bribery charges

Update: Discrepancies arose in the submissions of the parties involved, when the Haa district court conducted a cross-examination hearing yesterday to establish facts in the alleged bribery case of a public servant in the ongoing Lhakhang Karpo case.

Both the defendants, Nima of Pema Tshongkhang in Paro, and project engineer of Lhakhang Karpo, Tashi Gyeltshen, yesterday submitted conflicting statements against their bribery charges.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which is currently prosecuting seven defendants in connection to the case, implicated Nima for bribing the project engineer with a Samsung Galaxy phone worth Nu 33,500 and the latter was charged with soliciting the bribe.

Although their statements were contradictory, both defendants denied having solicited each other with bribes.  Nima said that he bought the phone from Jaigaon, India for Tashi Gyeltshen and received a half payment from him.

“I’d handed over the Samsung phone to Tashi Gyeltshen along with the receipt,” Nima submitted. “If I bribed him with mobile phone, why would I give him a receipt?” He claimed that the ACC had taken the phone and receipt when they conducted a search at Tashi Gyeltshen’s residence.

Tashi Gyeltshen also agreed that he paid Nu 16,000 to Nima for the cost of the phone and is yet to pay the balance amount.  He however said that he had asked Nima to buy a phone after he heard that he was travelling to New Delhi.

Tashi Gyeltshen clarified before the court that such misunderstanding or confusion could have been created because he bought a chip fryer from Pema Tshongkhang on credit when he visited Paro during one of the weekends.  At that time, he said, Nima wasn’t in his shop.

Maintaining its stand, OAG’s prosecutor said that Nima had bribed Tashi Gyeltshen with a Samsung phone in return for allowing forged bids and clearing an amount of Nu 624,720 in payments for repairing the existing water supply system at Lhakhang Karpo and purchase of construction tools.

The Anti Corruption Commission’s (ACC) investigation found that Tashi Gyeltshen had taken the plumbing material and carpentry tools from Nima, even before receiving the spot quotation bids, and promised Nima to place the supply order.  The accused had given two sets of spot quotation bids and asked Nima to arrange the bids.   Later, supply order was placed to Nima as promised.

“For facilitating and placing the supply orders to Nima for the spot quotations, Tashi Gyeltshen had asked Nima to buy him a Samsung Galaxy phone, which Nima bought and handed to him,” OAG’s prosecutor rebutted.

The prosecutor also said that, in his statement submitted to the ACC on November 14, 2012 and January 20, 2014, Tashi Gyeltshen had denied paying any amount for Samsung Galaxy phone received, and confirmed that he did not have anything to pay to Nima.

To corroborate evidence, the court has directed OAG to verify with ACC whether they had taken receipt for Samsung phone as claimed by Nima and Tashi Gyeltshen.

An ACC official over the phone yesterday said they hadn’t taken the phone’s receipt, although they seized the phone from Tashi Gyeltshen during a search at his residence in Haa.

Meanwhile, the court will also conduct another cross-examination for Tashi Gyeltshen and Tshewang Rinzin today.  The duo denied of soliciting and receiving a bribery of Nu 100,000.

TNW construction’s owner, Tshewang Rinzin was alleged to have bribed Tashi Gyeltshen to accept the poor quality sand collected at IMTRAT helipad area.  The project engineer claimed that Nu 100,000 was collected from Tshewang Rinzin and retained as a security deposit in his personal account.

Tshewang Rinzin was awarded a contract work to supply sand to the Lhakhang Karpo project on June 17, 2011.  Tshewang Rinzin, who is charged with active bribery of a public servant, also denied bribing the project engineer.

By Rinzin Wangchuk, Haa