Update: Maintaining its stand on the two charges framed against the foreign minister, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which is prosecuting seven defendants at the Haa district court yesterday submitted that the tender committee had apprised the chairman of the lowest bidder’s rate being 100 percent above the market rate.

The OAG was rebutting lyonpo Rinzin Dorje’s petition submitted to the court on March 17, where he said that the tender committee didn’t inform him of the rate being 100 percent above the market rate.

The foreign minister claimed that he noted a remark on the paper proposing for the tender committee to re-tender, after finding that the lowest quoted rate of Nu 37.70 was 100 percent higher than the market rate.

OAG’s prosecutor said that project engineer Tashi Gyeltshen, project manager Wangchuk Tshering, lapon (labour supervisor) Lhab Dorji and other members of the tender committee had admitted in their statements submitted to the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) that the committee did inform the chairman, who was then the Haa dzongda.

“In fact, lyonpo Rinzin Dorje also admitted to the ACC that the committee decided to re-tender the contract of sawing timber for the project,” OAG’s representative rebutted.

The foreign minister was charged with omission amounting to abuse of function, as he was alleged to have awarded the contract illegally to LD Sawmill without consulting the committee, and for paying the sawmill Nu 37.70 per cubic foot (cft), the rate, which the committee had initially rejected.

Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje denied having taken a unilateral decision to award timber sawing work.

Rebutting lyonpo’s stand on awarding the contract work to LD Sawmill, as per section 4.2.5 of the procurement rules and regulations, 2009, OAG’s representative maintained its earlier submission and reaffirmed that there was no authority for the chairman to negotiate the terms and conditions of its procurement, except the procuring agency.

On his second charge of embezzlement of public property, lyonpo had submitted that he used the dzongkhag DCM truck, as per the finance ministry’s circular on amended government rules and regulations related to pool vehicles, which allowed a civil servant to use pool vehicles by fuelling the vehicle and paying daily allowance to the driver.

The OAG rebutted that Anti Corruption Act, 2011 should prevail in this case.  Both parties will submit their evidences on April 8.

By Rinzin Wangchuk