Seven cases of deceptive practices and forgery forwarded to OAG

Rinzin Wangchuk

Even as the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) dismissed a complaint against what is known as “loan sharks,” the Royal Bhutan Police implicated two women and four men in similar cases where various levels of courts ruled in favour of lenders and middlemen.

Police forwarded seven cases of deceptive practices and forgery involving six suspects and eight individuals to the Office of the Attorney General for criminal prosecution last week.

After two months of investigation, the Thimphu police determined a nexus of collusion,  fraudulent practices in land transactions and illegal private money lending between 2018 and 2021. All these were the offshoots of illegal private money lending businesses.

According to investigating officers, the nexus surfaced following the enforcement of court rulings that made three families homeless and landless in Thimphu and Paro.

Many allegedly fell victim to a 34-year-old woman, functioning as a “middlewoman” for the loan shark in her elaborate scheming. The woman, a real estate firm proprietor, actress and a producer, was arrested on February 13 after one of the victims in Dechencholing lodged a complaint to police.

The victim complained following the enforcement of judgment during which he refused to vacate his house. He was detained for two months and released on bail.

“We took suo motu action based on the complaint, which led to a chain of cases involving two women, brokers and middlemen,” a police official said.

Police collected judgments of civil cases passed by lower and appellate courts that ruled in favour of the woman and her partners. Some cases were resolved through the court’s annexed mediation.

However, police investigation established that the woman and her partners submitted forged documents and fake sale deeds, executed between the parties, before the courts to prove that the transactions were carried out legally.

Some suspects confessed of forging signatures and documents, according to police.


What borrowers  say

A borrower talking to Kuensel said she “broke the law” is  ready to take accountability. “I accepted my punishment. I was charged with usury, despite not providing  financial service, and for deception for signing a fraudulent sales deed. But the loan shark was not held accountable for a single offence. In fact, the loan shark was even rewarded with her interest that was clubbed with the principal  amount,” she said.

She  borrowed Nu 1.4M from the same woman. But ended up paying Nu 3M as the loan shark added interest, fees and commission.

She said that the loan shark enjoyed immunity despite breaking several laws. “This is not fair justice. The laws should be applied to everyone”.

The woman also said that she was lucky to have recordings to prove that the loan shark hadn’t bought her land. “Otherwise the judiciary would probably have allowed her to take over my land at an under-valued figure on a fraudulent agreement and forged documents”, she said. “But so many others have not been as fortunate. This same loan shark has repeatedly taken her borrowers to court and seized property and assets. Yet, no investigation was ever ordered by the judiciary despite her and her financier being a regular at the courts.”

Another borrower said that he felt that the judiciary was hostile towards borrowers instead of the loan sharks. “There seems to be a notion, even among our judges, that borrowers are to blame,” he said. The lender, because he/she has money is respected and is considered to have ‘helped’ the borrower who is now cheating the lender.”

Another borrower said it is disturbing to how a large of a nexus loan sharks operate and the laws seem to be facilitating these large operations because of their tolerance. “The success of some of these big-time organized loan shark operations is quite visible by looking at the land they own, buildings they construct, and vehicles they purchase.”