In a first SC creates separate Bench in Thimphu to deal with multiple Phajo Nidup cases running into hundreds of millions

The Supreme Court has directed the creation of a special one-time bench in the premises of the Supreme Court in Thimphu to hear all of Phajo Nidup’s many loan, land and money related cases.

The bench will be a district court bench and it will be headed by a Drangpon from Dagana.

The Dagana drangpon will used two weeks in a month to solely hear Phajo Nidup cases and the other two weeks will be used to hear the regular cases in Dagana.

An official from the Supreme Court said that this is being done because there are multiple related cases going on in courts in Phuentsholing Dungkhag court, Chukha Dzongkhag Court, Paro and Thimphu among others.

The official said that given that Phajo mortgaged the same property multiple times with multiple financial institutions and also sold the same properties to multiple buyers there could be conflicting judgments from different courts or even unenforceable judgments coming out.

There are also cases where Phajo bought land from several parties but did not pay money.

With the creation of this special bench it will takeover all the ongoing cases against Phajo Nidup filed by Financial Institutions and private individuals he allegedly cheated.

In addition to that, the new bench announced that all others including other Financial Institutions and individuals who have issues with Phajo but have not yet filed cases to file them before this new bench.

The cases are mainly from Western Bhutan Dzongkhags. A source said that so far three Financial Institutions already have around 50 cases against Phajo brought to this new bench while there are around 25 private cases too.

Once all the cases come together it could be close to or even more than 100 cases against Phajo from FIs and individuals running unto hundreds of millions.

When it comes to the FIs one key thing the judge will have to see is which FIs have the first claim over the mortgages of Phajo as it was mortgaged multiple times with different FIs.

The SC official said that the Judiciary had learnt its lesson from the Aum Deki case in Paro when one person owed money to numerous private parties though the Phajo case is much bigger and more complex.

For other cases that have already been adjudicated against Phajo it will follow the normal appeal process.

Phajo Nidup, the owner of Choden Transport and Bhutan Ply in Phuentsholing, is the center of around Nu 657 mn worth of loans many of which are double and triple mortgages and most of them are under the category of Non Performing Loans.

The Royal Monetary Authority forwarded the cases to the Anti Corruption Commission which is currently investigating them to see if there was collusion with bank or thromde officials.

There are also several private buyers of these same mortgaged lands who never got the lagthrams transferred to them. One of the cases is a 5 acres and 33 decimals land under Phuentsholing thromde sold to several different buyers but this land was not given to them and instead mortgaged multiple times with FIs.

There are other similar cases on other lands mainly in Phuentsholing.

In other cases, he has bought lands but not paid money or his cheque has bounced. In one case in Paro he was involved in giving fraudulent cheques of Nu 3.4 mn and Nu 19.8 mn and in another case it was Nu 6.8 mn.

In Kabesa Thimphu, Phajo agreed to buy Nu 170 mn worth of land at 4 acres but he he paid only Nu 800,000 and sold the land to other buyers without paying the remaining money.

The above cases above show a spectacular failure of the Phuentsholing Thromde and Banks in not being able to detect the double and triple mortgages and the sales. Victims have alleged possible collusion by Thromde employees and bank employees.

It also shows a failure of the overall system to stop a man like Phajo from duping many banks and people out of their loans, money and land.

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