Update: Although the Haa court dismissed all three charges of embezzlement, commission and omission amounting to abuse of functions against the project manager of Lhakhang Karpo conservation project, the defendant faces a criminal liability at the appellate court.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) appealed to the High Court Bench II on August 10 to review the lower court’s judgment and consider a criminal liability against project manager Wangchuk Tshering for waiving off woola (labour contribution) for his relatives and neighbours.

The prosecutors submitted that the OAG was not satisfied and convinced by the lower court’s ruling for accepting adjustment made by the defendant by reflecting the 15 names of his relatives and neighbours in the muster roll, without engaging them in the project as woolaps. “This was the main reason why OAG is appealing against the Haa court judgment,” prosecutor Tshering Dorji submitted.

He said that the lower court summoned people whose names were reflected in the muster roll to testify and admitted that they didn’t work for the project although they were issued woola receipts for the work not done.

The OAG prosecutor also submitted that the defendant had no authority to waive off woola for 13 people for which he was liable for criminal sanction. “However, the Haa court exonerated him justifying that the court could not establish Wangchuk Tshering had a ‘criminal intent’ to embezzle funds,” the appeal letter stated.

The OAG has implicated the project manager with two embezzlement charges, involving Nu 74,985 and Nu 55,380, for using ghost labourers in the muster roll. Wages from the muster roll were collected using thumbprints and fake signatures.

Meanwhile, the High Court has adjourned the hearings of active and passive bribery of public servants charges for judicial investigation in connection with the poor quality of sand supplied to the project.

The OAG appealed to the High Court after the Haa court dismissed two charges of bribery and inferior quality of sand and acquitted a 31-year-old contractor. The verdict stated that the proprietor of TNW Construction, Tshewang Rinzin, who supplied sand to the project, had not bribed project engineer Tashi Gyeltshen but paid the amount as security deposit for un-sieved sand.

The OAG charged the duo for soliciting and receiving a bribe of Nu 100,000. Tshewang Rinzin was charged for bribing Tashi Gyeltshen to accept inferior quality sand collected from the IMTRAT helipad area. The money was deposited into Tashi Gyeltshen’s account through a self-cheque on August 27, 2012 three days after receiving his payment.

Rinzin Wangchuk