The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged the three men involved in the alleged smuggling of 15kg gold from across the northern border, to Paro dzongkhag court yesterday.

OAG charged the main accused, Thinley, 40, and Dawa Tshering, 28, from Tsento, Paro for smuggling, alleging that they smuggled in the one kg 15 biscuits of gold on the order of another Tsento resident, Tashi Gyeltshen.

Soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) in Gunitsawa intercepted Thinley at Phobding with the gold biscuits. Although Dawa Tshering, who was with Thinley managed to flee when Thinley was arrested, he was later arrested when Thinley confessed his involvement.

RBA also arrested Tashi Gyeltshen when Thinley and Dawa Tshering confessed that they tried to ferry in the gold on his order. The two claimed that he promised to pay them Nu 11,000 each for smuggling in the gold.

They were charged for violating section 279 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB), which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of smuggling, if the defendant secretly and illegally imports or exports the restricted and prohibited goods or substances including animal parts.”

Section 280 of the PCB states that the offence of smuggling shall be value-based sentencing.

The value of the gold Thinley and Dawa Tshering were accused of smuggling was estimated to be more than Nu 46 million. OAG, therefore, stated that the offence should be graded a third-degree felony.

The charges stated that the two also violated section 10.1.4 of the Sales Tax, Customs and Excise Act 2000, which states that gold and silver in excess of more than 50grams shall require prior permission from the Royal Monetary Authority and shall be subject to levy of Customs duty.

OAG charged Tashi Gyeltshen, 39, for solicitation as per section 126 of the Penal Code, alleging that he purposely and knowingly ordered Thinley and Dawa Tshering to smuggle the gold biscuits.

OAG submitted that Tashi Gyeltshen is liable for half the penalty imposed on Thinley and Dawa Tshering as per section 134 (b) of the Penal Code.

Soldiers arrested Thinley on September 30. Dawa Tshering and Tashi Gyeltshen were arrested later. RBA forwarded the case to police on October 5.

Tashi Dema