Phuentsholing drungkhag court convicted a non-Bhutanese businessman and a customs clearing agent employee in fake customs claims last week.

The businessman, Vikash Agarwal, had leased a business licence belonging to Tenzin Dorji and registered as Kundrup Enterprise in Phuentsholing.

He posed himself as the supplier to the enterprise. However, in reality nothing was bought by the enterprise or supplied from his shop across the border in Jaigaon.

Vikash Agarwal had forged fake customs forms and with help from a private clearing and forwarding agent employee, Dorji Wangmo, claimed Nu 41.88M.

The court sentenced Vikash Agarwal, who refused to attend any of the hearings in the case that ran for more than a year and a half in absentia to two years and 10 months for forging signatures, tampering official documents and deceptive practice, among others.

The court delivered a concurrent sentence for the 397 counts of charges that the Office of the Attorney General filed.

Vikash Agarwal was also convicted of transacting Nu 41.88M to his account in India and under section I, 10 (1) of the Operational Guidelines for Indian Rupee Transactions 2012, the court ordered him to restitute double the amount, Nu 83.77M to the state.

Dorji Wangmo was charged for 67 counts of tampering of official documents. She plead to the court that she had committed the crime unknowingly.

OAG charged that Dorji Wangmo from Samkhar in Trashigang had received Nu 0.125M as a token of appreciation from Vikash Agarwal. However, the court stated that the OAG did not convince the court beyond reasonable doubt on the amount.

Dorji Wangmo admitted taking Nu 40,000 before the court and the court ordered her to restitute the amount to the state. She was found guilty of 67 counts of deliberate tampering of public documents. She was handed a concurrent prison sentence of 18 months.

Both the defendants can pay in lieu of their prison terms.

OAG charged the defendants to court on May 6, 2016.

Tshering Palden