Rajesh Rai  

A senior customs inspector stationed at the MDP, Truck Parking and Pasakha is one of the customs officials still facing custodial interrogations. He was arrested on October 8. 

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation revealed that the suspect had been receiving illicit payments from multiple parties in relation to the import of goods. However, he concealed these bribes using the bank accounts of other private individuals.

He requested one of his old schoolmates working at Pasakha, to use his bank account. He convinced his friend saying that he had money to receive from someone in relation to betel nut and that he was not comfortable using his own saving account as it would make law enforcement agencies suspicious. The suspect shared this bank account number with importers or suppliers in Jaigaon to transfer bribes. In less than a month, he collected about Nu 800,000 from four individuals. Every time a deposit was made, the suspect requested his friend to withdraw cash and deliver it to the containment area. On other occasions, he instructed the friend to transfer money to some accounts that he claimed to be his family members. After some time, his friend refused to hand over Nu 50,000 to the suspect because the proceed became suspicious to him when he reviewed his bank statement.

The senior inspector then switched to another old schoolmate operating a small shop at Pekarshing in Phuentsholing. Using this account, the suspect collected about Nu 1.994 million from as many as 35 individuals or business entities. The suspect invested collected bribes to operate a beer supply business and at one time to sell betel nut. He engaged in a more deceitful means of hiding corrupt proceed by routing through additional layers of account. He made his friend transfer money to BoBL account of one of his cousins working in Mongar who then transferred it to T-Bank account before sending it to one of the beer agents. Other times when the suspect personally approached and deposited cash with some acquaintance operating small businesses asking them to transfer the amount from their account to his cousin in Mongar.

The suspect also used another bank account registered in the name of a retail store, the business account of which was otherwise inactive after the proprietor discontinued the business. The account was obtained through the brother-in-law of the license holder. Just as he did with the other two friends, the suspect told the brother-in-law that he wanted to use the account to collect money in connection to ‘doma’. The official said that the investigation ascertained that about 15 individuals made deposits amounting to more than Nu 470,000 into the account.

The suspect also shared his friend’s bank account with some of his colleagues in customs to receive bribes. The proceeds were then transferred to their own relative’s account. As of date, eight individuals have been detained, three customs officials, for investigation.