The six accused in false insurance claim amounting to Nu 226,546 yesterday submitted their responses to the charges the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed at the Thimphu dzongkhag court on May 14.

Among the charged are the former Dzongkha Development Commission secretary Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen and former Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (RICBL) executive director Sonam Dorji, three RICBL officials and an automobile workshop owner.

The defendants submitted to the court that the charges be dismissed.

Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen was charged with fraud for submitting false intimation letter to RICBL stating that his Toyota Prado met with an accident at Lamperi on the Thimphu-Wangdue highway on July 19, 2016 around 10.50pm.

The letter also stated that the vehicle was removed from the accident spot and kept at Kuenga Workshop for repairs, so there was no police report. According to the prosecutor, Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen also wrote that he was unaware that a police report was needed to make insurance claims.

The OAG alleged that the three RICBL officials as instructed by the executive director forged receipts and documents and violated the rules.

Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen’s attorney, Yeshey Wangdi, said that his client had not violated any rules.

He said that Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen had submitted the intimation letter as required by RICBL rules and as advised by the executive director.

He said that if his client was not entitled to the insurance claim, the company would not approve it in the first place.

“There is no way a claimant can force the company to pay him insurance claims if the conditions for rightful claims are not met,” he said.

The company had followed its rules and the policy to give him his claim so there is no question of restituting the amount he said.

“The rules say that the police report of the accident is not mandatory,” he said. “It is left at the discretion of the claims committee.”

On having insurance policy for the same car, he said that it was not unique to his client.

OAG’s attorney Namgay Rinchen said that if Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen was entitled to the insurance, there would be no case. “It is because there were manipulations and violations of rules to give him the insurance claim,” he said.

Yeshey Wangdi requested the court for statements that his client had given to the ACC.

Namgay Rinchen said that Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen’s car engine malfunctioned when it was on the way to Mongar. It was then repaired at the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan (STCB) workshop at Olakha, Thimphu.

OAG alleged that the officials approved the claim despite being unlawful.

Former Executive director of RICB, Sonam Dorji, is charged for abuse of function. He is accused of changing the insurance cover from third party to comprehensive scheme after asking his subordinates to change the scheme without inspecting the vehicle and giving Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen a claim of Nu 226,546. He is also accused of instructing the general manager to help and provide the insurance claims.

Sonam Dorji’s attorney said that the OAG has to first prove which law was violated and how the violation related to abuse of his function.

“The two charges against my client are contradictory as the first charge says the claim was after converting the scheme from third party to comprehensive whereas the second charge states that claim was not entitled but given,” he said.

He also said that the company had already taken administrative action on his client.

The other three RICBL officials, whose charges range from aiding and abetting to forgery, said that they were only following the orders of the executive director and that they had repeatedly reminded him of the lapses.

They said that they didn’t know Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen and that they have not profited from processing his claim.

The owner of Dagap Workshop, Yonten Phuntsho, admitted to giving a blank cash memo to Ugyen Namdrol. “But I didn’t know it would be used for such a purpose. I was told it was for some official purpose and there would not be any issue,” Younten Phuntsho told the court.

Yeshey Wangdi said that the case was politically motivated but OAG’s attorney said that it was a false insurance claim case and that he has no comment on political allegations.

The next hearing is on June 19.

Tshering Palden