Prosecution of former regional director starts

Choyzang Tashi and five people charged on seven accounts

Corruption: The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) yesterday filed a criminal suit against six people, for the offence of forgery, aiding and abetting, reporting of false information and offence relating to witnesses, at the Phuentsholing dungkhag court.

Of the six, former regional director of regional revenue and customs office in Phuentsholing, Choyzang Tashi, is charged for 15 counts of forgery and two counts of offences relating to the witness, while senior tax inspector in Paro, Kinley, is booked for seven counts of aiding and abetting charges.

The OAG has charged Choyzang Tashi for three counts of forgery to obtain trade license of Tee Dee Enterprise in his sister-in-law, Tenzin Dekar’s name. Located at lower market in Phuentsholing and dealing with both wholesale and retail businesses, both trade licenses were obtained on May 4, 2005 after forging Tenzin Dekar’s signature on trade application form.

After making the false instrument to process the license of Tee Dee Enterprise in the name of Tenzin Dekar, Choyzang Tashi, contravening his due diligence and abusing his function, sent his subordinate Kinley to process the trade license from regional trade office in Phuentsholing.

Kinley went to process the license but he was informed that an authorization from the applicant was must. As instructed by Choyzang Tashi, Kinley prepared an authorization letter and was signed by Choyzang Tashi forging the signature of Tenzin Dekar. He also forged signature of Tenzin Dekar on the undertaking form.

By forging the signature of Tenzin Dekar on three consecutive documents, according to OAG’s submission to court, the formalities to process for the trade license were completed.

He intentionally made false instrument to deceive and defraud the trade authority and as a result the trade license of Tee Dee Enterprise was issued in the name of Tenzin Dekar.

Choyzang Tashi is also charged for forging his mother-in-law’s thumbprint on the application form, which he had filled, in his own handwriting, with details of his mother-in-law, Sonam Zangmo, to obtain a trade license for Sonam Beer Agency. The trade license, specifically for wholesale business dealing in Iceberg, Gold Premium, Lager Beer and Premium Rock Strong Beer was issued to Sonam Zangmo on June 13, 2006.

The thumbprint examination report of forensic unit, RBP in Thimphu, ascertained that thumbprint on the application form on April 20 was that of Choyzang Tashi, who had also forged thumb impression of his mother-in-law on the undertaking form.

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) found that the wholesale dealership of Sonam Beer Agency was changed to Yuksum Breweries Ltd few months after obtaining the license.

As per the instruction of Choyzang Tashi, Kinley had filled up the application for the change in the dealership. Choyzang Tashi, knowingly and purposely, forged the thumb impression of Sonam Zangmo on the application form. He also forged his mother-in-law’s signature while submitting the application for inclusion of Hit Beer dealership in the license of Sonam Beer Agency.

ACC also found that the defendant, contravening his due diligence to enrich himself and with the intention to deceive and defraud the state, forged Tenzin Dekar’s signature on the license of Tee Dee Cement Agent.

Choyzang Tashi also forged the signature of Tenzin Dekar to transfer ownership of Tee Dee Cement Agency from her to his wife Yeshey Zangmo.  The firm name was changed to Yeshey Cement Agent on October 28, 2005. He also signed on both authorisation letters for transfer or ownership by forging Tenzin Dekar and his wife’s signatures.

However, the trade license for Yeshey Cement Agent, registered in the name of Yeshey Zangmo, was again transferred it back to Tenzin Dekar, proprietor of Tee Dee Enterprise in 2007.

Both Yeshey Zangmo and Tenzin Dekar had no knowledge of the ownership transfer of the license. It was found that Choyzang Tashi not only prepared the transfer application, but also signed on the transfer application, forging the signature of Yeshey Zangmo.

The defendant was also charged for committing two offences relating to witnesses. During the investigation, Choyzang Tashi purposely called Rajiv Bhansali and Sunil Agarwal and induced them to testify “in an untruthful manner to the investigation to derail the probe and obstruct the justice.”

Rajiv Bhansali confessed that Choyzang Tashi instructed him not to disclose his name and their illegal business regarding leasing out of the trade license of Sonam Beer Agency and receiving commissions. Sunil Agarwal also confessed that Choyzang Tashi called him and threatened him not to cooperate with investigation.

The other three defendants, Tenzin Dekar, Kinzang Dorji (father-in-law), and Sonam Zangmo are charged for reporting of false information. In order to save Choyzang Tashi from criminal liabilities, they knowingly and purposely gave false information to derail the probe and obstruct  justice.

The prosecution submitted in writing before the court that Choyzang Tashi, had moral responsibilities to look after the affairs of the organisation with good faith, trust and dissuade his subordinates from involving in wrongful business. “He had not only misused his official position and authority for his self- aggrandizement and fraudulently obtained four trade licenses in the name of his wife and in-laws through means of forgery,” states the OAG document.

ACC began investigation after receiving few anonymous complaints between 2009 and 2012 concerning corrupt activities by Choyzang Tashi.

The service record of Choyzang Tashi and Kinley revealed that they have known each other since 1996 when they worked in Samdrupjongkhar. The duo embroiled in corrupt activities after both of them getting transferred to Phuentsholing in 2002.

Rinzin Wangchuk

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