Thimphu police on Tuesday arrested the owners of Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) Tenzin Rigden and Jurmey Tshewang for alleged forgery of documents in connection with the Learn and Earn Programme (LEP) in Japan.

This was following a petition submitted by the parents’ representatives and youth sent to Japan through LEP to the Chief of Police on June 27. About 100 parents went to the Royal Bhutan Police Headquarters to register a criminal complaint against BEO.

Following a month of review, both were arrested from their office on the afternoon of July 30.

Based on the complaint submitted to the police, lawyer of the Parents’ Committee, Nawang Tobgay, submitted evidence of forged documents stating that BEO had forged bank’s seal, logo and signature and bank statements.

The other complaints against BEO included deceptive practices where youth were guaranteed job opportunities in Japan, harassing youth for complaining, abandonment of a person in danger through the programme, and human trafficking where the youth were exploited.

However, a police official said that these issues did not merit investigation as they were civil cases and were already with the Office of the Attorney General. “The case did not qualify as criminal, including human trafficking because the youth were sent by the government as a part of LEP.”

The police are still investigating the case.

Nawang Tobgay earlier told Kuensel that while they were drafting a 15-page letter to appeal to the court as a civil case, they realised that the case was more of criminal in nature and decided to register the case with the police. 

“The civil case would only compensate the youth but there will be no punishment to the agent and they should be punished,” he said. “However, we’ll go by the police investigation and their findings.”

The case came to limelight last year after the ACC asked the labour ministry to compel BEO to refund translation fees amounting to Nu 3.832 million (M) to the 511 students sent to Japan through the programme.

The parents’ committee had also said that if the police register the case as a criminal charge, they would not file it as a civil case. However, lawyer Nawang Tobgay said that they are still discussing with the parents’ representatives whether to sue BEO.

Yangchen C Rinzin