Chenda Tobgye detained for Bangkok embezzlement case

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) detained Chenda Tobgye on 3 March, 2013 in the Thimphu city police station in connection with the ongoing investigation of the Bangkok embezzlement case which first came to the light in late 2010.

The ACC had received the case from the Foreign Ministry in November end 2011.

The government forwarded the cases to ACC as there was a prima facie case of the corruption to be further investigated.

The case first came to light in late 2010 when top Bangkok hospitals stopped taking in VIP Bhutanese government patients on credit which was the norm earlier and instead these hospitals were asking for upfront cash payments.

Earlier a two member investigation team consisting of the former secretary of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, Nima Wangdi and chief internal auditor of the foreign ministry, Karma Choeda was sent to Bangkok in April 2011.

The team found that 12mn bhat or Nu 18mn had not been paid to six major hospitals of Bangkok. Bumrungrad, Phyathai 2, Smaitivej, Bangkok hospital, Vibharam hospital and Rutnin eye hospital.  Included in this Nu 18mn figure were bills of several private individuals who were not sent by the government and were yet to be identified. This was a surprising discovery as the unpaid bills are supposed to be only for government patients.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) released 13mn bhat or Nu 18mn as funds for outstanding medical bills in Bangkok pertaining to the former head of Chancery, Chenda Tobgye’s case. And the amount was routed through the Bhutan embassy in Bangkok which according to the finance ministry was to save the country’s image.

The hospitals in Bangkok was about to sue the royal government of Bhutan for the outstanding bills that had not been cleared and in order to save face, the ministry on behalf of Chenda Tobgye released the fund.

However the fund that was released will have to be refunded or accounted for by Chenda Tobgye.

Also the main person responsible for clearing these bills, Chenda Tobgye, had claimed to have suffered a ‘memory loss’ after which he was hospitalized for brain fever.

This bizarre development considerably complicated the case as Chenda Tobgye was in charge of the special medical budget in the embassy. This special medical budget was for the treatment of VIP patients like members of the royal family, ministers, and senior government officials and in some cases ordinary people sent on Kidu.

The process for sending these VIP government patients is that an estimated amount is sent to the embassy for the patient’s treatment. This money is transferred to a special medical budget account managed by Chenda Tobgye who was supposed to later settle the bills. If there was an excess or shortage of money sent by the finance ministry, Chenda Tobgye has to submit the accounts and ask for additional money in case of shortage.

Chenda Tobgye, on his completion of his term at the embassy, was transferred to back to the foreign ministry in Thimphu as a protocol officer.

He joined the office on September 12, 2011, but, after reporting to the ministry, he stayed on leave, and then on December 1, 2011, he was suspended by the ministry.


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  1. Except for Royal Family members and Kidu patients, there should not be any special treatment to anybody when it comes to Govt. funded healthcare. Besides these expensive treatments abroad for special groups, it is really sad to know that there are also special expensive medicines procured by the health ministry for certain section of people. Can we allow this to happen even in the age of democracy and DPT’s much touted Dranyam and Drangden? The Bhutanese should uncover this.

    • Why not start special insurance coverage for such special treatment outsisde if at all necessary rather than having to keep separate special medical coverage for high level sr. citizens. Provisions for special insurance coverage should be kept under special allowances. This should include all MPs and Executives as they are the leaders of country. For rest of the citizens if desired they can pay their own pockets. This would take care of all management aspects by RICB rather than having to manage by civil servants. Just my take.

  2. If I had to pay back that amount of money I would not only suffer memory but speech loss …wife loss…kanchi loss…everything loss….. lol….

  3. With power comes responsibilities and with responsibilities come privileges….

    Why begrudge…..besides, ministers and senior bureaucrats perform more responsibilities than most royal families….

  4. it looks like rest of the bhutanese are less humane….Now i have got some clue that the improving standard of care in our health center is not a priority of government because those with influence and authority can get what they want at the cost of public money and only the innocent one suffers. Bhutanese example of ‘equity and justice’- All those b=shit rhetoric…if such amounts are wisely invested in developing health human resource, I am sure decades down the line we will have high quality of care in our health centers right from BHU to referral hospitals. Any way thanks chenda for making us aware of the issue.

  5. Disgusting man!!!  Wonder why MoF took so long to report such a big issue? What are the govt ppl doing in  the office, warming the revolving  chair, using our pvt tax money. Disgusting!!!!

    • To be fair, this case was reported nearly two years ago, it was only because the official in question feigned some sort of mental illness that this case has taken so long to see the light of day. And, please don’t blame MOFA, they had nothing to do with case, rather find out the person who was the one that gave him such a huge financial powers. 

      I am sure, now that he is in custody, the whole truth will come out.

  6. does it justifies to send lynpo and khandu wangchuk or wangdi Norbu to send for treatment outside? when they have so much wealth buildings everywhere? let 10 poor go to india with money they spend for 1 in bangkok. Thats GNH..

    • Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk and Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu and all other Lyonpos enjoy VIP medical facilities by virtue of they being ministers in the RGOB, so please stop being petty, similar things happen the world over. I understand what you mean by saying that the funds for treating one minister at Bangkok would probably cover the cost of treatment for 10 patients if they were treated in India, however, such things don’t happen in the real world.


      Yes man. Poor chap like us suffer from day to night. Hand to mouth and those privileges person wants to enjoy our tax money. A Hell to GNH and DPT. Those bastard made our life miserable and they have to pay for that. Bye bye DPT and come come other four parties

  7. The official in question has always had a history of big time/stakes gambling, armed with this knowledge, it is difficult to understand how he was given the responsibility of managing such huge funds to the tune of 18 million bahts. The fact that senior Embassy officials at Bangkok were not even allowed to monitor these funds, points to the fact that a very powerful individual  was pulling the strings from Thimphu, otherwise such a thing would have never come to pass.

  8. With the Nu. 18m we could have easily trained a doctor that will come and save lives in Bhutan. probably this money is just a piece of what is actually spent for such cases!

    Gosh, Dear Dashos, Aums, Lyoppos and others,
    Please please please, dont forget that Bhutan is still a LDC and we have way more important and severe cases to treat than your simple leg pain, skin rash or plastic surgery!

  9. There are many high official taking this chance. They go to bankok even for minor checkup and waste public money. Highest ranking of the Arm force take this opportunities and take with them all their family for a holiday. Where as our common people are struggling to get Nu 150 to refer to India. Many have even lost their live as they could not be refered on time because of the restricted fund for treatement for we the commom people

  10. This case is eye opener for us. With what little we know, our patients are referred to India only and not BKK. But it looks like we are sending many Bhutanese to BKK. Again it looks like we have two rules for a country and the DPTs equity and justice is just a cliche. They have failed to bring JUSTICE in all sense in last five years. The are embrioled in one controversy after another.
    Poor continues to struggle and suffer even to get basic health services for lack of fund in many hospitals around the country. Look at our infrastructures in hospitals and schools. It is saddening all round. These hospitals are finding difficult even to get few thousand extra bug to improve services but we seem o spent millions on few people. No wonder we do not care much to improve our own services when those suppose to take care are getting treatment else where.Something is definitely wrong some where. Can e correct it? Of course but only if we have brave leaders who dare to say no when it matters.

  11. These things were happening for the last many years. So friends do not be surprised. Be practical, privileged and underpriveieged are there throughout the Globe. Privileged are fortunate and the others unfortunate.

  12. I think people are missing the point.Where is accountability?Home Secretary Tshering Dorje was Ambassador in Thailand during this time.He got rewarded and Chenda got bombarded.Where is fair play?If you got connections you made it no matter what wrong you do.
    Disgusted with the system of corruption-corruption-corrution.

  13. Wow! Special medical budget, duty free quota and what not for our affluent. The entitlement classification -for affluent and ordinary- is impressive, especially amongst the population which is far less than 1 million. I envy the courage of those who availed the fund, especially in the face of prevailing malnourishment in some of our
    school. Oh, what a prerogative!

    The Bhutanese, please keep the nation informed.

  14. Lets be fair too…wat was ACC doing 4 two years. Waiting for case to come against government? Or orange scarf that Aum Neten will never be?

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