… claims they were victims of private money lenders

Rinzin Wangchuk 

Getting a wind of police investigating money-lending cases involving the so-called “loan sharks,” family members of Passang Lhamu, 74, filed a case against a middlewoman, Yangki, who they claimed cheated them and rendered them landless.

Family members filed the case after lower courts ruled in favour of Yangki and they couldn’t afford to pay the Nu 45,000 bond appeal to the Supreme Court for appealing the case.

Living in an old wooden shack above the express highway near the Village Restaurant, Babesa, the family is worried of losing their only property, a 3.5-decimal land on which the hut is built, to Yangki. “We were aggrieved by the lower and appellate courts’ decisions because our grandmother never sold her land that she owned for more than three decades ago,” one of her grandsons, Nidup, said.

He claimed that they requested both the trial and appellate courts to investigate how the sale deed was made. “But the courts denied our request justifying that Yangki had all the documents and witnesses to prove that the plot was sold to Minjur through her involvement,” Nidup said. “We are suing Yangki because we know we never sold the land. We were cheated,” he accused.

The case of  money-lending

When the  Covid-19 pandemic hit the four-member family hard, Passang Lhamu’s daughter Dechen decided to seek a loan from the bank to start a small poultry farm. She couldn’t meet the bank’s requirement for a loan because the minimum amount of land required to mortgage is seven decimals.

Later, Dechen learned through a neighbour about a private real estate proprietor. The neighbour introduced her to a broker who then took her to Yangki’s firm.

Nidup alleged that Yangki told her mother that the loan was possible only if she was willing to hand over the Lagthram to her and the same would return when the borrower repays the loan. “Yangki told my mother that private money-lending is prohibited by the central bank and they can lend money only on the pretext of land or property transaction.”

Dechen agreed and handed over the original lagthram to Yangki on February 8, 2021. Yangki also issued her handwritten receipt acknowledging that she received the lagthram and it is kept with her.

Police investigation revealed that Passang Lhamu and Dechen borrowed Nu 400,000 from Yangki by executing a sale deed for 3.5 decimal land on February 9. The agreement reflected that the plot was sold to contractor Minjur at a lumpsum amount of Nu 2 million (M). Passang Lamu and Dechen’s witness was Yangki and the buyer’s witness was a broker, Wangchuk. It was also revealed the contractor was a close friend of Yangki and a financier of her real estate business.

The agreement stated that Nu 2M was paid with a cheque on the same day. However, police found two cheques of Nu 2M and Nu 1.5M with the cheque of Nu 1.5M withdrawn by Yangki.  Yangki also took a photo of her handing over the cheque to Dechen. She gave Nu 300,000 to Dechen and dropped her home in Babesa.

Nidup claimed that his mother also received Nu 100,000 from Yangki with the condition that they repay her loan amount of Nu 0.4M along with an interest of Nu 100,000. Police sources said that Yangki took a receipt from Dechen acknowledging that she received Nu 1.5M.

On the same day, they went to Thimphu Thromde office to submit a mortgage declaration form for the 3.5-decimal plot. Police sources said that Yangki had brainwashed and misled Dechen to tell Thromde officials that their plot was sold to Minjur.

No farm, loses case

Dechen started a poultry farm to ease the family’s financial situation. However, due to Covid-19 pandemic and escalating cost of feeds, the business failed. Dechen borrowed an additional loan Nu 125,000 from Yangki. “We owed her only Nu 525,000 and interest of Nu 100,000,” Nidup said.

The family wanted to renovate their house and pay back the money as the interest was shooting. Dechen asked Yangki to return the lagthram she was holding on the pretext that she bought the land. However, Nidup alleged that Yangki kept giving excuses. “One day she called us to pay Nu 1.130M and take back the lagthram,” Nidup in his statement to the police stated. “After a few weeks, we texted her that we are coming with the money we borrowed from her. But, she said the  land was already sold.”

The next day, Nidup went to the thromde office to check the lagthram only to find that the land was sold to another person, Minjur, at Nu 2M.

Nidup said that Yangki told his mother that the agreement was for money-lending. “We would have known if she had shared the sale deed agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Police are still investigating the case.