Commission Raj in health ministry exposed

The faces of the people involved in the health ministry corruption cases are being revealed now. Of the many to follow in different cases, the first names include a joint director, an accountant and a dentist

Of the eleven cases forwarded by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) against the Ministry of Health (MoH) one has been recently forwarded to the court, two has been appealed to the high court, one has been dismissed and the other seven are under review by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The embezzlement case of an accountant with the procurement section was forwarded to the court.

The accused, L B Subba had been the accountant in the ministry since 2004-2009, and during the five-year tenure had embezzled more than Nu 11.8mn of the ministry’s budget from the procurement section.

L B Subba used to handle the government’s letter of credit accounts and all disbursements that went through the procurement section like medicine and medical equiptment.

He signed all the cheques and drafts.

According to Ugyen Wangdi, the attorney of the prosecution division, during the initial stages, L B Subba while sending the money to the Indian suppliers, kept 2% or more as commission. Of the many suppliers the main ones were Paricha Surgicals, Olivine International, Philips Medical System, Vikas Medical Devices, Natico Company, Commercial India, Medical Equipment and Devices, Serun Institute of India, and KR Lynch and Co. Later in 2006, he started financing Numkhor batteries owned by Yeshey Tobgay. Both of them had a joint account.However, L B Subba had also settled the audit irregularities that summed up to Nu 994,080.

On separate occasions, L B Subba had colluded with Sonam Chophel, of the health procurement office and they had embezzled Nu 573,850 from the government’s account, which they divided amongst themselves.

At the later stages, complaints started pouring in from the Indian suppliers on not receiving the full amount, so in order to fill in the shortage, L B Subba again embezzled government money of more than Nu 2.7mn and sent it to the suppliers. However, even from the money sent to the suppliers, he managed to keep some commission for himself.

Having embezzled a huge sum of the government’s money, he got himself some assets.It has been reported that he has constructed a house at Gelephu worth Nu 900,000 and he brought an apartment in Thimphu worth around Nu 2.7 million, and  a car for Nu 270,000 from Yeshey Tobgay.

It was also found that he had deposited his money in his wife, his father and his father-in-law’s accounts. The exact amount will be established during the evidence stage in court.  “The hearing will be conducted within 10 days,” said Ugyen Wangdi.

The other case again involving the procurement section of the health ministry has been filed under fraud and bribery involving Rinchen Dorji, Joint Director of the Drugs, Vaccine and Equipment Division and Dr Samdrup R Wangchuk, head of the dental department.

According to Karma Rinzin, the Chief of the prosecution division, OAG, the ACC conducted the investigation between October 2010 till February 2011 and it was forwarded to them sometime in January this year.Sources say that during Rinchen Dorji’s tenure in the DVED between 2003 and May 2008 he had taken money from the Indian supplies namely Vikas Medical Devices and Pasricha Surgicials Co. Ltd.

Dr Samdrup abused his position for unethical gains from the above two suppliers. Nu 18.38 million worth of contract for the high end dental chairs and X-Ray machines was awarded to Vikas Medical Devices despite one local vendor having offered the same equipment produced by the same manufacturer in Germany. Meanwhile, with the case still under review, the break-up of the case including the other health cases will be revealed on the completion of its review.

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