Office of Attorney General (OAG) has charge sheeted the Bhutan Employment Overseas Agent (BEO) Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden and BEO staff before the Thimphu District Court yesterday.
OAG has decided to charge Tenzin Rigden and Jurmey Tshewang for forging the Bank of Bhutan (BoB) bank balance, forging payslip of the sponsors of the students. They are also charged with larceny by deception for illegally deducting Nu 7,500 as a translation fee from each student.
However, OAG decided to alter the charge against graphic designer, a former employee of BEO who forged the BOB seal, from aiding and abetting to forgery. Likewise, the office decided to alter the charge against the eight BEO staff responsible for inserting the details of the sponsors on the BoB statement and forging the payslips, from failure to report crime to aiding and abetting forgery.
Regarding other charges on larceny by deception on visa fee, airfare, insurance fee and documentation fee, OAG decided to drop them against Tenzin Rigden and Jurmey Tshewang, on the ground that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the agents deceptively kept the money and had not rendered the services. Also, those charges are to be borne by the students, and if the agency is found to have charged more than actual cost, they are directed to refund the extra cost, which is administered in nature as per the Regulations on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent 2017 (REOBA).
Furthermore, OAG has decided to drop charge of deceptive practice against BEO on not intimating the Department of Employment and Human Resources (DoEHR) regarding the change in principle agent from Light Path Co Ltd to Support for New Departure (SND), on the ground that it is the responsibility of the agent to inform the DoEHR, and as far as the program is concerned, both the BEO and the principle agent has served its purpose to the students. Therefore, the failure of the BEO to notify and seek approval from DoEHR is administrative in nature.
Also, the charge of deceptive practice against BEO on continuing the service of providing the Japanese course even after the expiry of the contract signed with DoEHR, has been dropped on the ground that it is also administrative in nature as per the REOBA.
On the charge of deceptive practice against the BEO agent on non-disclosure of information regarding the requirement of N2 level and 28 working hours per week, the charge has been dropped on the ground that the second agreement which was amended after consulting and meeting with Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) was notified to the students, and therefore, the students were well aware regarding the change in clauses.
A copy of the minutes of the meeting held between MoLHR and the concerned parties were duly taken into consideration by BEO, and the changes made to the agreement and compliances of the first agreement were both notified and acknowledged by the students.
OAG has decided to drop the charge against Labour Director General Sherub Tenzin for official misconduct, on the ground that there is no specific failure on the part of DoEHR, as there was no records of change in principle agent or record on charging extra from the students filed by the students. Also, his failure to administer requisite document to authorities for the licensing of the overseas agency is already being charged in a separate case.
Similarly, OAG decided to drop charges against Sonam Tshering and Tshering Zangmo on the ground that there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the individuals participated in committing the aforementioned crimes.
Two BEO staff who are currently in Australia, and another two persons in Japan who went through LEP, will be charged separately, only after getting their representatives confirmed through the Power of Attorney to represent them in the court.
Meanwhile, Parent’s Committee lawyer, Ngawang Tobgay, said, “Finally, there is a knock on the door of justice, and we are equally excited to enter into with the wisdom of the prosecutors.”
He said although they have proposed for a number of charges against the accused in the criminal complaint to the Royal Bhutan Police, they respect the efforts and decisions of the prosecutors.
“It is not our prime objective to punish the accused only, but for the larger interests of the youths and to reap justice for those victimized by the LEP in Japan, we have had rational choice of criminal trial over civil suit. We expect that the outcome of this trial be a relief to the victims, and to deter other schemes and programs alike,” said Ngawang Tobgay.
He said it is hoped that the prosecutors representing them in the Court of Law, will commit to be resourceful and cooperative to meet the ends of justice.
“May we succeed in seeking the truth and ensure justice, to not only realize the OAG’s vision, but also to suffice the expectations of both victims and the public in general,” said Ngawang Tobgay.
Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) forwarded the case to Office of the Attorney General on 22 October.
Out of five charges against the BEO by the LEP students, RBP had ruled out three charges, which are Harassment, Abandonment of a Person in Danger, and Trafficking in Person due to lack of criminal elements. Additional charges, apart from forgery, had surfaced against BEO and also the Labour DG during the investigation by RBP. They were Official Misconduct, Aiding and Abetting, Failure to Report Crime and Larceny by Deception.
There is a separate ACC BEO case going on against the former MoLHR minister and current Labour DG and other officials.