A Bhutanese businessman and two non-bhutanese detained too

Update: The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has detained the former director of regional revenue and customs for interrogation.

The former director who is now the executive director of Bhutan Health Trust Fund (BHTF), Choyzang Tashi, was detained on July 18 as a part of the commission’s ongoing investigation into the alleged customs mal-administration and entrenched corruption in the fraudulent export and import businesses in Phuentsholing.

The former director and some customs officials were allegedly involved in renting out trade licenses, bribery, collusion with importers, fraudulent practices through under invoicing and wrongful declaration of goods.

The executive director was transferred from the department of revenue and customs to the BHTF in 2013.

Kuensel learnt that Choyzang Tashi was detained as the customs mal-administration, corrupt and fraudulent practices were mostly suspected to have started when he was the regional director in Phuentsholing. He was the regional director from 2002 to 2007.

The commission, who is also looking into the corrupt practices of tax evasion,fronting and illegal repatriation of INR through deflection of zero-tax commodities and producing fake import bills,  also detained another businessman and two non-nationals.

Over the period of three months, the commission has detained seven inspectors and customs officials with the regional revenue and customs office (RRCO) for alleged collusion and bribery cases and several businessmen and non-Bhutanese. However, they were released on bail after detaining them for a few days to a month.

Sources also said that ACC officials are scheduled to present some of their findings to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) tomorrow for framing charges against some customs officials.

Last month, the commission has submitted a case, where a customs inspector was implicated in connection with bribery and owning a disproportionate amount of asset to income, to the OAG for prosecution.  ACC investigators reportedly found that the inspector in question had more than Nu 6 million transactions done from his accounts maintained with different banks. He was detained for a month for not cooperating and refusing to share the source of income with the ACC.

The commission also suspended more than 20 business licenses in Phuentsholing after finding a prima facie case of corruption after it began investigation on April 20.

The last suspension order of four trade licenses of Brumi Enterprise, Y P Enterprise, Y P Winery and Bhutan Steel Center were issued on July 10.

By Rinzin Wangchuk