Phuentsholing drungkhag court on April 3 convicted a Phuentsholing-based businessman from Trashigang in a 2016 fronting case.

Kuenzang Tshering, 40, from Radhi had obtained a business license, YP Winery, in Phuentsholing in his mother in-law’s name and had leased it to a non-Bhutanese called Sanjay Pal.

The judgment stated that Kuenzang Tshering had violated section 6.1 (a, b) of the general guidelines for industrial and commercial ventures in Bhutan 1997 and section 3 of the rules and regulations for establishment and operation of industrial and commercial ventures in Bhutan 1995.

The provisions of the guidelines mandate the licensee to run the business and restrict the licensee from leasing it to another person in any form or manner.

The court ordered Kunzang Tshering to restitute the Nu 100,000 collected as fee for the lease to the state and pay Nu 10,000 as penalty for breaching the rules.

The court also cancelled the business license.

Office of the Attorney General submitted to the court that such fronting cases were affecting the livelihoods of Bhutanese shopkeepers in the border towns. Besides, there is also a huge impact on the outflow of Indian currency from these businesses, the prosecutor submitted.

The auction of the seized goods in the shop fetched Nu 2,029,991. The court ordered the amount to be restituted to the state after deducting the auctioning expenses of Nu 15,352.

Sanjay Pal claimed that the auctioned amount should be given to him but the court ruled that since he breached the law knowing that he was not entitled to run a business with the license, he has no right to the money.

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing drungkhag court ruled out forgery charges against Kuenzang Tshering.

He had submitted that he had filed the documents to process a license in the name of his mother in-law and obtained the business license that was leased to non-Bhutanese. The mother-in-law submitted in court that she had given him permission to run the business, as he was the sole bread earner of the family.

The court ruled that the prosecutor could not convince the court on the forgery charges and on whether he had violated provisions of the Penal Code.

Tshering Palden