Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited’s (DCCL) former head of finance, Jigme Tshewang, has appealed to the dzongkhag court on October 11 against the lower court ruling of six years imprisonment in connection with fraud and embezzlement.

Nganglam drungkhag court officials confirmed that Jigme Tshewang, who was jailed on September 28, submitted his appeal form to the court on Tuesday.

“We will forward his petition along with lower court’s judgment to the district court,” a court official said.

The drungkhag court also ordered the defendant to restitute Nu 7.3 million to the company.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged Jigme Tshewang for nine counts of embezzlement of public funds and six counts for participation in an offence. He was also implicated for possession of “unexplained wealth” as he had received a cash deposit of Nu 2.587 million in his savings account.

The prosecution requested the court to recover embezzled amount of more than Nu 4.226 million from Jigme Tshewang. However, the restitution amount increased after the court established that the defendant’s statement to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) stating that he had given Nu 3.030 million to DCCL’s account assistant Yeshi Zangmo could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The court ruling stated that Jigme Tshewang, as the finance head, was responsible to refund more than Nu 3 million.

The court acquitted Yeshi Zangmo, who was charged by OAG for embezzlement and participation in an offence.

Initially, ACC had recommended OAG to charge four other DCCL’s employees working in finance and store divisions for falsely claiming and embezzling Nu 1.35 million and participating in an offence. OAG had reportedly dropped their charges due to lack of evidence.

The commission conducted an investigation between January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014 after the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) forwarded the alleged embezzlement case on June 25, 2015 following a special audit of DCCL.

The commission’s investigation implicated seven employees, including former store assistant of DCCL, for falsely claiming and embezzling Nu 21.758 million from the company.

The findings also established the existence of collusive practices involving finance and store personnel, customs officials at check posts, and vendors. It also revealed serious systemic lapses and weak control systems that facilitated the siphoning off of company funds through rampant manipulation, fabrication, tampering of documents, and fictitious payments.

The commission also found that suspects prepared and withdrew vendor cheques as self cheques or in the name of DCCL employees and third parties, and deposited vendor cheques directly into their personal bank accounts.

They were also implicated for manipulating documents and forged signatures of recipients and vendors, inflated vendor bill amounts and inserting figures after approval by the approving authority, in addition to splitting vendor payments and creating fictitious liability.

To make payments to suppliers or vendors, the suspects asked them to resubmit their bills on the pretext that original bills were lost. The commission also found that money refunded by contractors was not accounted for and was shared between the perpetrators.

DCCL is a subsidiary company of Druk Holding and Investment with an installed capacity to produce 3,000MT of clinker and 4,130 bags of cement a day.

Rinzin Wangchuk |  Nganglam