Preliminary hearing of former customs director held

Judiciary: With a preliminary hearing held yesterday, the Phuentsholing dungkhag court has begun court proceedings of the former customs regional director Choyzang Tashi, along with five others.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) submitted its findings at the hearing.

Choyzang Tashi’s mother-in-law Sonam Zangmo, sister-in-law Tenzin Dekar, father-in-law Kinzang Dorji, son Kaylzang Tshering Tashi, and Kinley, a former subordinate, are the five other defendants.

The OAG presented that Sonam Zangmo, Tenzin Dekar, and Kinzang Dorji “knowingly and purposely” gave false information to derail the investigation and obstruct justice. Despite being given enough opportunities and revealing evidence against them confirming Choyzang Tashi’s activities, the OAG submitted that the defendants did not cooperate and provide constructive information.

In order to save his father, Kaylzang Tshering Tashi also knowingly and purposely visited Sunil Agarwal’s shop in Jaigaon, and threatened him over the phone not to disclose  information about the licenses and leases. Kinley knowingly helped Choyzang Tashi in committing the crimes, the OAG said.

The OAG has charged the former regional director with 15 offenses of forgery and two offenses relating to “witness.”

Choyzang Tashi’s fraudulent cases revolve around M/s Tee Dee Enterprise, registered in the name of his sister-in-law, Tenzin Dekar. The enterprise license comprise of both wholesale and retail businesses such as Yuksum breweries, Champagne Indage, SKOL breweries, Bacardi, and soft drinks.

In 2005, the former director had forged his sister-in-law’s signature, intentionally deceiving the Phuentsholing regional trade office with “false instrument.” The OAG submitted that the defendant Choyzang Tashi had also filled in the trade application himself.

During the process of producing the licenses, Kinley got involved. He was instructed to prepare the applicant’s authorization letter authorizing himself to process the trade license on behalf of Tenzin Dekar, while Choyzang Tashi forged the authorization letter.

Later, the former regional director also forged his sister-in-law’s signature while signing the “undertaking letter.”

Similarly, Choyzang Tashi had also forged the thumbprint of his mother-in-law, Sonam Zangmo, another defendant, in producing the license for M/s Sonam Beer Agency in Phuentsholing in 2006. The thumbprint impression was ascertained from a forensic unit report provided by the police in Thimphu. As per his superior’s instructions, Kinley had helped in filling up the undertaking letter on behalf of Sonam Zangmo, and signed as a witness.

Choyzang Tashi, the OAG submitted to the dungkhag court yesterday, had forged Sonam Zangmo’s thumbprint again while changing the dealership of M/s Sonam Beer Agency to Yuksum Breweries ltd. A dealership of Hit Beer was also included later in 2007 with the same forging method used.

M/s Tee Dee Cement Agent, which was also in the name of Tenzin Dekar is another business entity in which Choyzang Tashi was involved in forgery.

It was also in 2005 that Choyzang Tashi had forged signatures for both the making and transferring of a license. Tenzin Dekar as a transferor and his wife as transferee had neither signed nor authorized anyone to sign the ownership transfer form, and they were both not aware who had signed.

The license was again transferred back to Tenzin Dekar. The transferor and transferee had not known about this too.

Later, the licenses were given to a man from across the border, Rajiv Bhansali and received commissions in return.

In the offenses relating to the witness, Choyzang Tashi had called Rajiv Bhansali and instructed him not to disclose information about the illegal business regarding the lease of M/s Sonam Beer Agency. Sunil Agarwal was also called for the same reason.

“As a result, Choyzang Tashi brought damages to the State and general public, especially, the business community,” the OAG has submitted.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing

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