Court convicts four in two separate fraudulent cases

STAFF REPORTER | Thimphu 

The Supreme Court this week convicted two individuals for fraudulent registration and encroachment of government land in Depsi while the High Court convicted two others for fraudulent remittance of Indian Rupee (INR) to India.

Gup Kanjur and Karma Jamtsho, a former Thimphu Dzongkhag land record officer were concurrently convicted for government land encroachment, deceptive practice, forgery, and official misconduct. They were convicted for illegal registration of 2.82 acres of pastureland in Depsi as the duo had profited by illegally selling land to various individuals.

In other instances, the High Court of Bhutan rendered its judgment on 15 December 2021 to Pramod Kumar Shah and Kinley Penjor, a former senior executive of Druk Punjab National Bank (PNB), to concurrent imprisonment for the involvement in fraudulent remittance of INR from Druk PNB to various parties in India through deception, collusion, forgery, bribes, and fronting.

Government land encroachment 

The Supreme Court concurrently convicted Gup Kanjur and Karma Jamtsho for two years and one year respectively on 8 December 2021.

The court ordered to restitute the sold plots of land belonging to 18 individuals to the state within two months from the date of judgment.  

As compensation for the 18 buyers, Gup Kanjur was ordered to give the affected land replacement or cash compensation, inclusive of interest, within two months from the date of judgment.

On 2 April 2014, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) received a walk-in complaint alleging that Karma Jamtsho, former Thimphu Dzongkhag land record officer (LRO) had illegally registered 2.82 acres of tsamdro(pastureland)belonging to Depsi community into several private thrams and then profited by selling to many individuals. 

Since September 2016, ACC started investigating these allegations, particularly the two plots registered in the name of Kanjur’s mother Tenzin.

The investigation found out that there were two plots named Chakazhing and Dzomdrakchotenjab measuring 90 decimals and 2.82 acres respectively belonging to Tenzin.

Currently, these two plots have been fragmented and sold to 18 individuals. The investigation determined that sometime between 2000 and 2005, Kanjur had fraudulently registered the two plots namely Chakazhing and Dzomdrakchotenjab on Depsi community tsamdro in the name of his mother Tenzin.

The evidence and subsequent investigation by ACC proved that the plot Dzomdrakchotenjab was actually located in Punakha and already declared as Punakha land during Thed-Thimphu separation in the mid-1980s. The survey record proved that the landowner was unable to locate this plot during the 1988 detailed survey.

The investigation also determined that Gup Kanjur altered the map and arranged falsified community clearance.

Karma Jamtsho, who was the LRO in the Thimphu Dzongkhag administration, also knowingly aided Gup Kanjur in processing the illegal registration.  

The case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on 30 December 2016 while formal charges were filed before the Thimphu District Court on 3 October 2017.

Fraudulent remittance of INR to India 

The High Court convicted both Pramod Kumar Shah and Kinley Penjor to three years’ concurrent imprisonment terms on December 15, 2021. 

The court has ordered two sureties of Pramod and to bring him back to the country within 10 days from the date of judgment. 

However, in case the sureties fail to deport him back to the country, the court has passed the judgment to the sureties to pay thrimthue in place of his three years of imprisonment term. 

It was alleged that Pramod, who is one of the owners of Kailash Vegetables in Phuentsholing, repatriated massive amount of money in the form of INR Demand Draft (DD) and Telegraphic Transfer (TT) from Bhutan to many parties in India by deception, collusion, forgery, bribes, and fronting. 

The investigation revealed that since the beginning of 2012, Kinley Penjor, a senior executive of Druk PNB Bank in his official capacity had assisted Pramod, a vegetable supplier in fraudulent remittance of INR from Druk PNB bank to various parties in India. 

According to ACC, Kinley Penjor had also aided Pramod in importing vegetables by using his Kinxin Vegetables & Fruits and Kinxin Electronics licenses.

The report by ACC states that Kinley Penjor received over Nu 0.54-million as a reward for assisting in fraudulent remittance of INR to India. 

It was also found that Pramod had also used several other Bhutanese licenses to import vegetables from India. Between 2012 and 2014, he had imported vegetables worth around Nu 40.43-million as per the record maintained by Regional Revenue and Customs, Phuentsholing.

However, the investigation found out that he had remitted around Nu 104.2-million to India in the name of various parties. In doing so, he had remitted an excess amount of around Nu 63.8-million over actual imported value. 

The case was referred to the OAG on 13 October 2015 and filed formal charges before the Thimphu District Court on 24 October 2016.