OAG to rebut foreign minister Rinzin Dorje’s opening statement today

Lhakhang Karpo: Of the seven individuals charged with official misconduct, forgery, bribery and embezzlement in the Lhakhang Karpo corruption case, the Haa district court sentenced a 31-year old businessman from Paro to three months in prison yesterday.

Druk Leading Enterprise’s owner, Pema Wangchen, was found guilty of favouring businessman Nima, also based in Paro, in getting a contract for the procurement and supply of construction materials to repair the existing water supply system at the Lhakhang Karpo conservation project.

The court, however, gave the defendant an option to pay a thrimthue of Nu 11,250 in lieu of the three-month prison term.  Pema Wangchen paid the thrimthue instantly after the verdict was passed in favour of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The OAG charged Pema Wangchen with aiding and abetting the crime, as he helped Nima of Pema Tshongkhang to quote a higher rate.  Nima, who had not participated in the spot quotation, requested Pema Wangchen to help him by quoting a high rate in the spot quotation form.  This was arranged to show that Druk Leading Enterprise also participated in the bidding.

According to the verdict, the lhakhang conservation project decided to call a spot quotation because of urgent requirement for the work to complete, and gave four sets of quotation forms to Nima in March 2012. Nima then distributed and collected three quotations, one each from Pema Tshongkhang, Druk Leading Enterprise and Sonam Enterprise.

The project on April 9, 2012 awarded the repairing of water supply and procurement of construction tools worth of Nu 624,720 to Nima, who then claimed the amount on September 7.

Both trade licenses of Pema Tshongkhang and Druk Leading enterprise were suspended by ACC on January 26 this year, after the case was registered with the court on January 23.

Pema Wangchen admitted before the court that he helped Nima by quoting a higher rate than Nima’s.

Meanwhile, Nima is charged with forgery and bribing the project engineer with a Samsung phone worth Nu 33,500.  He will rebut the two charges framed by the OAG at the Haa court today.

The OAG will also submit two rebuttal statements against Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, who was then the Haa dzongda, and TNW Construction’s owner, Tshewang Rinzin.

Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, who chose not to hire a legal counsel and represented himself in the court proceedings, is charged on two counts of abuse of functions – favouring LD Sawmill by awarding timber sawing works worth Nu 1.403 million, and using the dzongkhag’s DCM truck to transport his private timber from Haa to Thimphu.

During his opening statement to the court on February 27, Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje said he had not violated any laws, rules and regulations.  He also requested both the court and prosecution team to carefully bifurcate the two charges framed against him, as the charges were different in nature.

Tshewang Rinzin is charged with bribing the project engineer with Nu 100,000 in May 2011, and for supplying poor quality sand from the IMTRAT’s helipad area.

ACC took up the Lhakhang Karpo case after they received an anonymous complaint in September 2012 about the misuse of project funds by dzongkhag officials colluding with contractors and business entities.

It took two years to complete its investigation in April 2014.

Rinzin Wangchuk, Haa