ACC forwards Lhakhang Karpo case to OAG

The Anti Corruption Commi s s ion (ACC) forwarded the Lhakhang Karpo case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution on, 17th September, Thursday.

Both ACC and the OAG were tight lipped about the case and despite several attempts they declined to share a copy of the report which is exclusively with these two organizations.

However, it has been learnt that the ACC report is based largely on what was already indicated in its 2012 Annual report.

The main focus of the ACC case is on the issue of timber works tender and diversion of construction materials.

The ACC could be carrying out a separate or additional investigation on the muster roll issue especially after media reports brought out more details on the issue.

According to earlier ACC reports the Foreign Minister as the Haa Dzongda had violated tender norms to unilaterally give the tender to a L.D Sawmill without going for a retender.

In 2011 a tender was floated for timber works for a saw mill for which around 10 bidders participated. However, all the bids were very high including the lowest bidder LD Sawmill who offered Nu 37.7 per cubic feet which was well above the market rate. In this light the Dzongkhag tender committee decided to go for a re-tender.

In the end the Haa Dzongda in response to a letter from L. D Saw mill had written a note authorizing L. D Sawmill to do the timber works at Nu 27 per cubic feet. According to an earlier statement of ACC the tender was given violating procurement rules as the tender committee was not involved. Later the Haa Dzongda further authorized the amount to be increased to Nu 37.7 per cubic feet.

The ACC’s 2012 report said, “Mild Steel rods had been diverted to the project staff’s friends, either contractors or Dzongkhag officials. The project engineer had received gratification for accepting sub-standard construction materials from the suppliers.”

The report also said, “Construction materials “lent” to friends did not come back until detected by the investigation team. A truckload of cement was brought to the store after a few days of the shortage being detected by the investigation team, in the guise of borrowed cement.” The final ACC report also has details on such diversions.

The ACC’s 2012 Annual report which mentioned the first phase of the investigation stated, ‘As of October 2012, the total expenditure incurred was Nu 14.390 mn out of which Nu 4.370 mn was against muster role payments. The quantity of work done at the site point to huge fictitious muster roll payments.”

The ACC’s 2012 report goes on to say, “Some households had paid Nu 3,000 in lieu of monthly labor contribution. There was also a corresponding daily per head labor payment of Nu 165 from the government.”

One major issue could be a Dzongkhag committee or officials approving or allowing fake names in the muster roll. It has been learnt that the ACC found this out after spending more than two years tracking down around 400 or so fake names on the muster roll, many of whom had never even been to Haa. In an earlier interview to this paper the former Dzongda and now Foreign Minister had claimed that the additional fictitious names had been put by a committee so that the real workers could be paid a higher wage. The ACC report may not include the muster roll issue for which a separate or further investigation may be done.

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