Phuentsholing court convicts one, dismisses three fronting cases

Phuentsholing drungkhag court last month ordered the former National Council member from Paro and the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for Lamgong-Wangchag constituency, Kaka Tshering, to pay Nu 860,000 to the government.

The judgment stated that Kaka Tshering by leasing out his Gyalse Nadin Ventures, a garment business to an Indian national, Sushil Kumar Taparia, breached section 3 of the rules and regulations for establishment and operation of industrial and commercial ventures in Bhutan 1995 and section 6 of the general guidelines for industrial and commercial ventures in Bhutan 1997.

“So in accordance to the two sections and section 198 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan, he should restitute Nu 860,000 to the government.”

The court also ordered the cancellation of his business license.

The case surfaced in 2015 after the Anti-Corruption Commission investigated fronting cases in Phuentsholing and accused Kaka Tshering of official misconduct and commercial bribery.

The commission found that Kaka Tshering had transferred his trade license to his daughter in 2013 when he contested for the National Council. However, an Indian businessman, Sushil Kumar Taparia, ran the business and all transactions were conducted between Kaka Tshering and Sushil Kumar Taparia.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged Kaka Tshering of receiving about Nu 1.1M in alleged bribes from Sushil Kumar Taparia. OAG also submitted to the court to impose fine of Nu 10,000 as fine for leasing the license.

But the defendant’s lawyer, Chencho Dorji, submitted before the court that his client only took Nu 850,000 as commission and borrowed Nu 150,000.

The court ruled that although Sushil Kumar Taparia refused to appear before the court, Chencho Dorji produced a letter from Sushil Kumar stating that the Nu 150,000 was lent to Kaka Tshering.

OAG also charged two business people, Dorji and Tshering Zomba, for leasing out their license to Sushil Kumar Taparia but the court dismissed the charges after Dorji and Tshering Zomba justified that they did not lease their licenses.

OAG requested the court to order Dorji to restitute Nu 150,000 he got as commission from Sushil Kumar and to impose a fine of Nu 10,000. The office also asked the court to cancel his license.

Dorji submitted before the court that Sushil Kumar once sent his goods in his license from China. He also submitted that his children borrowed Nu 150,000 from Sushil Kumar when he was not around.

OAG requested the court to impose a fine of Nu 10,000 on Tshering Zomba and cancel her business license but the defendant contended that Sushil Kumar sends goods in her license since her uncle and aunt, who helps her to run the shop and provides financial assistance knows him.

OAG also charged Sushil Kumar for transacting Nu 8.5M through Druk PNB and Bhutan National Bank (BNB) accounts, and requested the court to order Sushil Kumar to restitute the amount to the government with an interest of Nu 834,241 (calculated at 9.75 interest rate). The court dismissed the charges.

OAG also charged Sushil Kumar of deflecting garments imported from China amounting to more than Nu 20M from Phuentsholing to Jaigaon. The court dismissed it stating Sushil Kumar never appeared before the court.

It was learnt that the OAG has appealed to the High Court on the matter.

Meanwhile, the court also ruled that since Kaka Tshering deliberately leased the business license, affecting the employment opportunities for Bhutanese citizens and their livelihood and Sushil Kumar, despite knowing that he is not eligible to do such business, did the business illegally, the Nu 325,728 in Druk PNB and BNB and Nu 3.6M from the sale of confiscated goods should be restituted to the government after deducting Nu 87,137 as auction expenditure.

Staff reporter

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