ACC finds in-transparency and lapses for Film Awards

Recommends administrative action and rescinding of awards 

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has found in-transparency and administrative lapses by the Bhutan Film Association (BFA) for the 16th National Film Awards (NFA) in the case of the criteria for best three films that received the Prime Minister’s award along with Nu 1 mn each. ACC concluded its investigation on Friday evening.

Film director Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche had filed a complaint of corruption and collusion against the former BFA board in March this year alleging the last minute changing of film award criteria which allegedly enabled films of the BFA board directors to win.

The ACC found that the BFA board had not transparently shared the change in criteria with its members.

The BFA Board presented minutes of the meeting to the ACC to show it had discussed and endorsed the change in criteria, but the ACC found that the minutes had only been written later and backdated to respond to complaints.

The investigation also concluded that the final winners of the best films would have been different if the old criteria had been followed.

The ACC while finding in-transparency and administrative lapses has not found any criminal acts that can be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution.

An ACC official, on the condition of anonymity, said that it would have been criminal if the marking had been done on the old criteria and then at the last minute a new criteria was  made up to ensure certain other films won.

The official said that the new criteria were an old draft that had been emailed and circulated a few years ago and not one drawn up at the last minute. The ACC said the issue was with its adoption which was not made known to the film award participants.

The film Director in his complaint letter also broached conflict of interest saying that the producer of the two best film winners Pema Tshering is a board director while the best director winner for ‘Serga Mathang’, Kesang P. Jigme is a board member and the Vice President of BFA.

The ACC official said that for legal criminal prosecution it is not enough to just point at the presence of potential conflict of interest but there must also be clear proof on how that presence influenced the outcome. So ACC in this case could not find the clear legal proof of conflict of interest directly influencing the final results.

An issue not in the Director’s letter but pointed out by other BFA members and also explored by the ACC was on Vice President, Kesang P. Jigme’s first cousin Thukten Yeshi being a juror on the most influential of the three jury committees controlling around 55 percent of the final score for best film.

Here the ACC said they went through the detailed score cards of all the judges and did not find any wrong doing or unusual scoring to show Thukten Yeshi favoring his first cousin or any other films. So Thukten Yeshi has received a clean chit from the ACC.

The ACC has recommended that since the in-transparent change in the criteria by the former BFA board affected the outcome, the three awards and the cash money should be rescinded. The ACC has also written to the Civil Society Organization Authority of Bhutan to take necessary administrative action for the administrative lapses by the former BFA Board.

The BFA after recent elections got a new board and President.

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