Thinley Namgay

The Supreme Court convicted former Home Minister Sherub Gyeltshen and five Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) officials in relation to a false vehicle insurance claim worth Nu 226,546 yesterday.

The judgment, signed by the Chief Justice Chogyal Dago Rigdzin and three justices, states that after a thorough review they found the lower courts’ judgment legitimate and there was no reason to alter them.

Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen and the RICBL officials had appealed to the Supreme Court on May 10.

The courts sentenced Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen to two months in prison for violating section 311 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, which states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of fraudulent obtaining of insurance if the defendant presents a false statement as part of an application for commercial or personal insurance or as part of a claim for payment on a commercial or personal insurance policy.

Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen’s crime was graded a petty misdemeanour where he can pay thrimthue in lieu of the prison term. Dasho was asked to refund the amount to an insurance company through the Office of Attorney General.

Dasho Sherub Gyeltshen claimed vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546, stating that his Toyota Prado met with an accident at Lamperi on the Thimphu-Wangdue highway in 2016. The former executive director of RICBL, Sonam Dorji, helped him claim insurance for the repair.  He was convicted with two offences of misusing his official position.

Sonam Dorji changed the insurance cover of the vehicle from a third-party to a comprehensive scheme which helped the vehicle owner be entitled to a bigger amount in claims. He had also asked his subordinates to change the scheme without inspecting the vehicle and release the claims.

Sonam Dorji was convicted for one year, which is graded as a misdemeanour.

RICBL’s general manager, Sangay Wangdi was also sentenced to six months in prison for solicitation and asking inspection officer, Ugyen Namdrol to get blank cash receipts from an automobile workshop to adjust the claims.

Ugyen Namdrol was convicted with forgery and deceptive practice. He was convicted for fetching a blank receipt to adjust claims of Nu 125,746. He was also a member of the claims committee and signed the resolution deceiving the committee to pay the claimant. He was sentenced to a year in prison which the larger bench of the High Court reduced to six months.

Another RICBL official, Sangay Dorji was sentenced for a month in prison for aiding and abetting as he signed the committee resolution despite knowing that the claim violated the company’s rules.

The proprietor of Dagap workshop, Yonten Phuntsho was also convicted for aiding and abetting as he gave the cash receipt to Ugyen Namdrol despite knowing that it is not allowed. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment.