Former CSI Bank Board Director Tshewang Tashi and CEO of SAI Trading get 3 years and 6 months in bribery case

The former Board Director of the National Cottage and Small Industries Development Bank Limited (NCSIDBL), Tshewang Tashi, and the Chief Executive Officer of Sai Trading Partner, Samten were sentenced to three years and six months each in prison on Monday by the Thimphu District Court.

The sentence was to do with a Nu 1 million (mn) bribe that Samten had paid to Tshewang when he was in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF).

The case was investigated after a complaint was lodged against Tshewang Tashi in the ACC when he was the Senior Livestock Production Officer in the Department of Livestock and he looked after all the poultry projects under the Department.

According to the ACC investigation of 2017 and 2018 the Nu 1 mn bribe had been given by Samten to get privileged information and fix an upcoming modern hatchery project tender which consisted of supply, installation and erection of the modern hatchery in the National Integrated Livestock Farm, Samrang under Samdrupjongkhar.

The Nu 1 mn was paid by Samten to Tshewang after getting paid for installation of the layer equipment in Relangthang, Sarpang.

Soon after getting the bribe Tshewang shared privileged information about the project to Samten. After this Samten explored the market about the hatchery and acquired some technical specifications for the hatchery equipment from a Canadian company called Jamesway Incubator Company and drawings from a Dhumals Metals Pvt Ltd and Samten then passed on the technical specifications on to Tshewang in a thumb drive.

Tshewang then ensured that the tender document or the Standard Bidding Document matched these specifications for the hatchery project. The ACC study found that even the minute details matched.

ACC had other evidences like chat history and messages between the two over the fixing of this tender over the period of one year. The ACC investigation established that the mastermind in this process was Tshewang Tashi who wanted to ensure that Sai Trading got the tender in return for the Nu 1 mn bribe.

The ACC said Tshewang could not account for money in his accounts and establishing a Youth Business Cooperative he benefitted from as a civil servant, however, the court sentencing seems to be for the bribery case.

Tshewang to ACC and in the court claimed that money was part of a Nu 2.5 mn loan he took from Samten of which Nu 1.5 mn was paid first and later Nu 1 mn was paid back later along with proper receipts.

The two have appealed the case and are currently trying to get bail.

Tshewang is currently on Extra Ordinary Leave (EOL) from the ministry and has set up a private company, and he was until recently the Board Director of the National Cottage and Small Industries Development Bank Limited and Bhutan Livestock Development Corporation.

He was very recently removed from his board positions due to another ACC investigation pertaining to his bank board position.

It is alleged that Tshewang Tashi as the Chairman of the Board Credit committee took part in giving his own son a Nu 5 mn loan for a meat processing unit. Other suspicious loans are also being looked it. The loans are mainly NPL now or heading into NPL.

The loans are given at a concessional interest rate of 8 percent with no collateral required and a repayment period of 10 years.

Tshewang had been appointed as the board director of CSI bank by the Cabinet in 2020 despite the bribery case.

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