Engineer, whose faulty designs caused BHU collapse, whiffs millions

A 30-year-old dzongkhag assistant engineer has been charged for corrupt practices on seven cases, the amount sums up to millions in cash

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) forwarded five of the seven cases against the Mongar dzongkhag assistant engineer to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) recently. The other two cases are still being processed.

The seven cases include irregularities in constructions of the Narang-Drametse farm road, the principal’s quarter at Udarric, the gup’s office at Balam, Narang BHU, water supply to Narang BHU and the retaining wall for Narang BHU. The Narang BHU, designed by the accused, Tshering Norbu, 30, from Jagathang, Paro, had not followed proper building standards, and collapsed during the September 2009 earthquake.


Money hidden in farmroads

It was complaints over the Zimzorang to Kenkhar farm road case, which led the ACC to investigate corrupt practices on the other six constructions.

According to Kinley Tshering, the assistant attorney from the prosecution division of the OAG’s office, the ACC got hold of Tshering Norbu’s fraudulent practices after they started investigating the construction of the Zimzorang to Kenkhar farm road phase I. The investigations between September 2009 to April, 2010 reveals that Tshering Norbu took a bribe of Nu 270,000 from Pem Dorji (a shop owner at Dremetse) and Karma Wangchuk (a former Bhutan National Bank employee).Tshering Norbu, charged with bribery, official misconduct, forgery, obstruction of lawful authority and disproportionate asset, deposited the cash into his wife Sonam Wangmo’s account at various times amounting to little more than Nu 1mn.


Pulling in the spouse

Sonam Wangmo, a laboratory technician at the Mongar Referral Hospital has been charged for forgery as she signed a receipt for Nu 250,000 saying she had borrowed Nu 2, 50,000 from Kelzang Dawa ( proprietor of Drame Khorlo Construction).

Kelzang Dawa has been charged with forgery as he provided false information to the ACC stating that he did lend Nu 250,000 to Tshering Norbu and had also executed two false receipts with the intent to deceive and mislead the investigation.

Pem Dorji has been charged with bribery for colluding with Tshering Norbu in return for his favor in preparing the tender documents and filling up of bill of quantity.

The other person involved is Karma Wangchuk who has been charged with bribery and criminal solicitation for sub contracting his license from K. C. Construction. Karma Wangchuk bribed Tshering Norbu Nu 270,000 in favor of preparing the tender documents.

The last person involved in this case is Kezang Choejoe from Thimphu, proprietor of K.C. Construction.  He has been charged for forging the CVs of engineers, site supervisors and manager.

Kezang Choejoe had also sub contracted the contract to Karma Wangchuk for a 5% commission of the contract value. The cost estimation of the contract amounts to Nu 19.2mn.


Money paid for work not done

On the construction of the principal’s quarter at Udarric Primary School, Tshering Norbu has been charged with bribery alongside aiding and abetting. The assistant attorney said that Tshering Norbu had paid Nu 150,000 to Pema Wangda (proprietor of Masang Mejud Construction) in favor of preparing his contract documents. Tshering Norbu verified and passed the forged bills for materials and secured an advance of Nu 359,452 for payment to the dzongkhag accounts section. Tshering Norbu also verified and passed bills amounting to Nu 181,890 for unexecuted works.

Apart from Tshering Norbu, another site engineer, Sonam Tshewang has also been charged. While the practice was ongoing, Tshering Norbu had left for studies to India after which Sonam Tshewang took over the responsibility of supervising the works.He had verified and passed bills amounting to Nu 181,890 for unexecuted works. Sonam Tshewang has been charged for official misconduct.

Tshering Norbu has to restitute Nu 50,000 from contractor Ugen Wangchuk of U.Wangchuk Construction, which he received in favor of winning the bid.

Ugen Wangchuk had also claimed bills for unexecuted works, done excess payment, submitted forged documents like work completed certificates, certificate of technical personnel and also forged financial credibility documents. Tshering Norbu verified and passed bills amounting to Nu 900,000 and knowingly filled up the bill amounting to Nu 230,000 in frictious amount for Lhawang Enterprise.

Increasing pipe diameter on paper

The total estimation of the contract work was Nu 5.4mn. However, according to Kinley Gyeltshen, another assistant attorney, the BHU literally collapsed from the September 21, 2009 earthquake; this he said was due to poor quality materials used for construction.For instance, the contractor had used unseasoned timber, ordinary sand and was not in accordance to the quality standard control.

Tshering Norbu had filled in the cost estimate, tender document and prepared bills in favor of Kelzang Dawa. And then, Tshering Norbu, in his own hand writing, had over written and manipulated the diameter of pipe from 25mm to 32mm. The bills were paid for 32mm. He had also increased the length of the pipe from 4005 meters to 4019 meters.

The last two cases, which are under review is the construction of water supply and retaining wall for Narang BHU Grade II.

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