Dechen Dolkar

The Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) announced yesterday a concerning trend: the widespread practice of Bhutanese individuals sharing or renting out their bank accounts or cards to non-residents, particularly in border areas.

This has led to a rise in what the RMA terms “mule accounts,” which are essentially bank accounts used for illegal fund transfers on behalf of others.

Fraudsters often approach Bhutanese individuals with enticing incentives to use their accounts for illicit purposes. Even if individuals are not directly involved in the fraudulent activities, they can still face legal repercussions under the law.

Additionally, these accounts are being exploited to solicit unauthorised online donations from the public using falsified documents.

In response to this issue, the RMA has announced stringent measures, including blacklisting individuals associated with mule accounts. It has also urged the public to refrain from accepting such offers, sharing bank account details, or allowing others to use their accounts or cards.

Concerns have been raised about the shift from cash transactions to mobile banking, particularly in areas like Phuentsholing where residents are using mobile banking for shopping in places like Jaigaon.

Accounts used for these transactions often bear Bhutanese names, hinting at potential involvement in fraudulent activities.

The RMA is taking proactive steps to address this issue by raising awareness about combating money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

It has also committed to investigating cases of widespread mule account usage within the country to safeguard Bhutan’s financial integrity.