Art Finch of Yung Drung was expelled from the country in 2015 for “inappropriate conduct and activities” 

Thukten Zangpo

The government disclaimed any association with Druk Yung Drung companies, an associate of the companies, and any purported Special Economic Zone (SEZ) projects associated with them, according to a press release from the Cabinet Secretariat on April 22.

Recently, a video was being circulated by a company named Druk Yung Drung Investment and Innovation Zone Private Limited or Yung Drung Inc. and their associates (WorkSpace, based in Thimphu) claiming that they have been developing and promoting the idea of SEZ project in Gelephu over the years.

The video also highlighted the company’s association with the government, indicating the government’s endorsement of their project and Bhutan Innovation and Investment Summit to be held in May this year.

Disclaiming the video, the press release stated that the materials in the video falsely portrayed the existence of a partnership between the government and the company.

“The Royal Government of Bhutan does not endorse and has no formal association or legal relationship with the Companies or with Dane George Finch also known as “Art Finch” or any of their associates, including but not limited to Andrew Hammond, Khando Chukchey Wangdi and partners,” it added.

Available information on the internet states that the lead proponent, Art Finch, a South African-American entrepreneur, came to Bhutan to study economics and environment at the Royal Thimphu College for six months in 2012.

It was also learnt that in 2015, he was expelled from the country by the Department of Immigration for “inappropriate conduct and activities.”

Art Finch claimed that he came to Bhutan to promote foreign direct investment in the country – to start a new Internet Service Provider in Bhutan and Swim Bhutan Programme, but was denied.

The video on the SEZ indicated the government’s endorsement by showing images from the brief presentation at the Prime Minister’s Office. It also had pictures with some ministers, apparently taken after a similar presentation.

In a response to the press release that was posted on social media on Saturday, Druk’s officials stated that the pictures with the prime minister and other ministers are real. “We did not state the government had authorized us to develop the Gelephu City project, we shared the simple truth that we developed this idea and have been promoting it for years.”

Meanwhile, Kuensel learnt that as an awareness to the government secretaries of such developments, Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering, wrote a letter to the Cabinet Secretary on April 11 stating that nothing concrete transpired from those meetings and no communications were followed thereafter.

The video also highlights the inaugural of Bhutan Innovation & Investment Summit 2023, which falsely claims to be under the patronage of the Prime Minister. The video added that the company is waiting for the Prime Minister’s formal response.

“The Prime Minister does not patronise, endorse or promote events of this nature and will not be participating in the purported event,” the press release from Cabinet Secretariat stated.

From insights Kuensel got, it was apparent that the Prime Minister was clear on disassociating from the firm or the company or its so-called partners in the country. In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, he stated that in his conversation with Khando, the founder of WorkSpace, he expressed his disappointment for indicating his name as the “patron” and chief guest for the summit without his knowledge.

Lyonchhen also warned Khando for the “unprofessional approach comprising misrepresentation of the government, displaying utter disrespect to the head of the government, not necessarily to him, Dr Lotay as a person, disrobe him and his organisation of every trust and credibility.”

Lyonchhen added that he also told him the ministers will not engage in any of the programmes related to Druk Yung Drung Innovation and Investment Zone Private Limited at any level hereon.

The Cabinet Secretariat reminded the public to be vigilant against “scams” containing false information designed to promote or advertise investments in Bhutan.

Also, the government advises the general public to exercise due caution when participating in investment seminars and the government is committed to protecting the public from fraudulent activities and false and misleading representation.

“We are further investigating the Companies and their associates. We urge anyone who suspects that they have been a victim of any fraud or attempted fraud to report the matter,” the press release stated, adding that such related information on particular scam or others can be submitted to

Kuensel tried to contact WorkSpace officials for comment. They said they would contact Kuensel, but did not when the article went to print.