Corruption: Former Gelephu dungpa Pema Wangdi admitted to 45 of the 70 counts of charges framed against him during the opening statement hearing at the Gelephu dungkhag court yesterday.

The Office of Attorney General (OAG) has categorized the corruption cases into eight sections amounting to a total of 70 charges.

Out of 26 counts from first section that includes embezzlement of Nu 10.637M (million), a fund generated from Losel Cinema hall in Gelephu town, the former dungpa admitted to 24 counts and to 21 counts from mismanagement of Losel cinema hall.

The former dungpa however refuted the six charges framed against him. The six charges include maintenance of Losel cinema hall, maintenance of cremation ground at Serzhong in Gelephu, construction of wall at India-Bhutan border in Gelephu, forging of accounts, the Tokay Gecko case and hot spring maintenance at Serzhong.

Another charge against him includes the fraudulent award of contract works. Pema Wangdi had allegedly awarded three contract works to construction firms without floating tenders. He was accused of awarding renovation work of Gelephu tshachu (hot spring) worth Nu 1.350M to four contractors, who were believed to be friends and acquaintances of him and his son’s. ACC had found that the tender documents were submitted later while some documents were forged.

Awarding works of renovation worth Nu 1.2M for the Gelephu crematorium, and re-roofing of Nu 1.6M cinema hall followed the same modus operandi.  The ACC in August last year suspended trade and contract licenses of seven construction firms allegedly indulged in fraudulent tendering process, following an investigation on complaints lodged against the dungpa.

When forwarding its 500-page investigation report to OAG in March this year, the commission had implicated 253 counts of charges against Pema Wangdi and accomplices.

The commission began investigation on June 13, 2014 after receiving several complaints against the former dungpa, who has been suspended since June 23, after they found a prima facie case of corruption and embezzlement. In the process of investigation, ACC officials recovered Nu 3.401M from the dungpa’s residence in Gelephu.

The OAG will rebut on January 4.

Yeshey Dema, Gelephu