Rinzin Wangchuk 

A 52-year-old woman is seeking the central bank’s intervention to look into the exorbitant interest rates illegal money lenders charge and wants to pay the government the penalties for the wrongdoing of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

This follows after courts penalised them and asked them to pay hefty interests to money lenders who fine-tuned rules to charge unreasonably interest rates and won cases at the courts.

A three-page complaint letter was submitted by the victim’s husband along with audio recording to the Royal Monetary Authority’s consumer protection unit (CPU) on April 12. The complaint was lodged after the victim was detained for not being able to pay Nu 30.9M to the loan shark as per court’s order.

The letter alleged the woman money lender from Chuniding, Serbithang, had charged her unreasonably interest rates  for the Nu 13M she borrowed for two months at a  monthly interest rate of 10 percent in 2019.

The victim’s husband said that his wife borrowed Nu 13M, but the loan shark issued two cheques amounting to Nu 15.6M to be withdrawn from Bhutan Development Bank Limited. The moneylender had clubbed the 10 percent interest to the principal amount making it Nu 15.6M.

The loan amount was reflected in two sales deed agreements signed on October 3, 2019 on the pretext that the victim’s four-storied building in Babena was sold to the loan shark for Nu 23.2M for which a cheque of Nu 7.2M was given. The balance amount of Nu 16.2M was to be deposited in the RICBL account for the building as per the agreement. The building was already mortgaged with RICBL when the two parties signed the agreement.

The other sales deed was for a plot in Motithang executed for Nu 9M of which a cheque of Nu 8.4M was issued and the balance amount of Nu 0.6M was not received by the victim.

From Nu 13M, the loan shark deducted Nu 250,000 as commission and took back Nu 2.6M after withdrawing Nu 15.6M. The victim paid the interest portion of Nu 1M. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and family problems, she could not repay the loan. The principal amount along with interest has reached Nu 30.9M in three years.

The loan shark then filed a case against the victim at the Thimphu dzongkhag court in October 2021. The case was resolved through court-annexed mediation. She alleged that the lender forced her to agree to the court’s mediation by assuring her to reduce the interest rate from 10 percent to five and lend her an additional amount of Nu 7.5M if she accepted the judgment, letter to the RMA stated.

After agreeing to the suggestion, the lender calculated the five percent interest for 24 months on the Nu 13M and three percent for six months on the time given in the court’s order which came to Nu 30.9M.

The victim, who was detained in the first week of April, requested the RMA to pursue the matter as a case of money lending without approval from the central bank.

Last week, the court summoned both parties where the victim asked the loan shark to take her four-storied building in Babena for Nu 75M. “But the lender refused to take it,” her husband said.

In his earlier statement to Kuensel, RMA’s Legal Chief Pemba Thinley said that RMA will pursue unregistered money lenders based on complaints.

“RMA will entertain complaints against any individual or loan shark engaged in illegal money lending business and if enough grounds are established, the case will be forwarded to the Office of Attorney General for prosecution,” he had said.

Note: The place mentioned in the story is not related to Chuniding business