Trashigang dzongkhag court on September 28 upheld the Wamrong dungkhag court’s judgment involving a former teller of Bhutan Development Bank Ltd’s (BDBL) Wamrong branch office for forgery and tampering of public records.

The court sentenced Karma Choden to three years and six months for forging signatures and misusing clients’ money worth more than Nu 2.8 million (M) since 2011.

It was learnt that the 37-year-old former teller forged signatures and tampered with the documents of 11 fixed deposit (FD) account holders and 21 saving deposit (SD) account holders with the branch office.

Karma Choden had misused Nu 2,028,449.73 from 11 FD accounts and Nu 6,898,287 from 21 SD accounts since 2011. The crime was carried out by forging signatures of the clients on the withdrawal form and also through online back-office transitions.

The case came to light in 2016 when the accused tried to forge the signature of the officiating branch manager. The case was then reported to the regional manager.

The dzongkhag court upheld the drungkhag court’s judgment.

Karma Choden was found guilty of violating section 296 (B) of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB), which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of forgery, if with the purpose to defraud, deceive, or prejudice the rights of another person, the defendant: Makes, completes, executes, authenticates, issues, or transfers a writing or document using the authority of another, who did not authorise the defendant to use the authority.”

The offence of forgery is graded a felony of the fourth degree.

The court ordered Karma Choden to refund Nu 2,851,786.93 to the bank.

It also asked the BDBL management to take administrative actions against the five branch managers (three officiating) who were involved in the case since 2011 and report to the court of the actions taken.

It also stated that one of the branch managers, Yezer Pelden, who knew about the case failed to report the matter to the management.

The judgment stated that concealment of fraud activity and cash shortage of Karma Choden by the branch manager was seen as a gross violation of duties and responsibilities.

The court ordered Yezer Pelden to pay a fine of Nu 45,000.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang