435 corruption related cases reported in the FY 21-22

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has registered 435 cases with an average of 36 complaints per month in the fiscal year 2021-2022. The average case report shows an increase from 25 cases in 2020 to 36 cases in 2021.

However, the number of known complaints took over the number of anonymous complaints with 219 complaints from known sources and 216 complaints from anonymous sources. The report reported that the number of known complaints must have increased due to the increased awareness, trust and confidence in ACC.

Of the 435 registered complaints, 7 percent (32 cases) qualified for investigation. In addition, of the 261 complaints received from anonymous, the complaint against management of resources contributed the highest with 65 cases followed by complaint against the Award of Contract with 30 cases and 29 cases of Natural Resources.

The report shows maximum complaints pertaining to abuse of functions with 151 cases. Likewise, 23 embezzlement cases, 13 bribery cases, 5 false claims, 3 conflict of interest cases, 2 money laundering cases, and 64 other cases were reported.

“With regard to complaints against agencies, LG constituted the highest number of complaints with 107 cases followed by ministries with 34 cases and dzongkhag administrations with 24. Of the complaints against LG, complaints against the gewogs of Paro (16), Punakha (13) and Thimphu (12) reported the highest,” the report added.

Similarly, the report states that among the ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests reported the highest (10 cases) followed by Health Ministry (8 cases) and Ministry of Information and Communications (6 cases). Paro has the highest number of complaints (6 complaints) followed by Punakha and Chhukha with 3 complaints each.

RAA referred five reports to ACC with a suspicions of corruption offences.

ACC opened 32 new cases during the year bringing the total caseload to 59 cases, including 27 spillover cases, the report stated. The 35 backlog cases reflected from the previous report were also reviewed by the ACC, remotely, during the pandemic lockdown.

Report further added, “Of the 59 cases, ACC completed investigation of 30 cases during the reporting period. 8 cases were referred to OAG, 12 cases were dropped due to lack of evidence and 10 cases were referred to relevant agencies for administrative actions.”

“Between July 2021 to June 2022, ACC executed 17 search and seizure operations and detained 24 suspects during the investigation process. A total of 127 defendants were charged for corruption and other criminal offenses, of which 109 were convicted, 14 acquitted and four deferred. The conviction rate for the reporting period stands at 88.62 percent excluding deferred judgments,” report added.

During the year, an investigation has been launched at Phuentsholing Mini Dry Port (MDP), suspecting bribery and other illicit activities during import of essential goods into the country. While, initially the investigation started as a single case of bribery, however, it branched out into 8 parts due to involvement of other public officials and private individuals in bribery and money laundering issues.

In the process, ACC conducted sting operations intercepting 4 trucks carrying undervalued goods on 15 Dec 2021 wherein the operation resulted in the RRCO Phuentsholing levying over Nu 1mn in fines and penalties on offending importers.

Meanwhile, a total budget of Nu 133.009 mn (a capital budget of Nu 39.416 mn and current budget of Nu 93.593 mn) has been approved for the FY 2022-2023.

However, given the dire economic and financial situation in the country, the approved budget for the FY 2022-2023 declined as compared to the approved budget for the previous FY (total budget of Nu 170.224 mn).

Therefore, it would be more challenging for the ACC to realize expeditious need to fulfil its envisioned aims and objectives with the existing approved budget.

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