Out of five charges against the Bhutan Employment Overseas Agent (BEO) by the LEP students, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has ruled out three charges, which are Harassment, Abandonment of a Person in Danger, and Trafficking in Person due to lack of criminal elements.
However, in the course of police investigation, additional charges apart from forgery have surfaced against BEO and also the Labour DG. They are Official Misconduct, Aiding and Abetting, Failure to Report Crime and Larceny by Deception.
Earlier, the Thimphu Police accepted the forgery charge. BEO was charged on two counts, the first for forging Bank of Bhutan’s (BoB) bank balance statement and secondly for forging salary statement (pay slips) of the students’ guarantors.
It is alleged that BEO owner, Jurmey Tshewang, and his business partner, Tenzin Rigden, had prior information and knowledge that without the bank balance statement, the students of LEP would not be granted visa by the Japanese Government, hence, they intentionally forged the BoB document in a soft copy format. The bank balance statement of BoB was forged by creating one master soft copy in their office computer.
The forged documents were printed and executed each time for all 730 students of LEP, showing a minimum bank balance required by the host country. Each document contains the student’s genuine bank account number and citizenship identity card number. By forging BoB’s balance statement for all 730 LEP students, the BEO has committed an Offence of Forgery.
They also knowingly, with the motive to gain profit, forged the salary statements (pay slips) of the students’ guarantors at their office, to tally the fictitious amount mentioned in the forged BoB statement. BEOA staff prepared such forged documents for all the students by inserting false pay slip statement on forged Bhutan Insurance Ltd (BIL) BIL employee pay slip and other guarantors’ pay slips. It is alleged that the forged pay slips were made on the order of the BEOA proprietors to falsely authenticate their forged BOB statement.
By forging the salary statement of the students’ guarantors for all 730 LEP students, the owners of BEO have committed an offence of Forgery under Section 296 (a) of the Penal Code of Bhutan.
BoB’s round seal was forged electronically in the document by a graphic designer, a former employee of BEO on the orders of the BEO owner and partner. The signature, seal and manager’s name on the fake BoB documents were forged by the former BEO employee who is currently in Canberra, Australia for his studies. He said he did this on the orders of his employers.
The Thimphu police charged 14 BEO former and current employees for Failure to Report Crime and Aiding and Abetting Crime.
Director General (DG) of MoLHR, Sherab Tenzin, and an official from DoEHR have both been charged for official misconduct. Thimphu police said that they knew about the requirement of a bank balance statement sometime back in 2018, but they were not aware as how and which type of statement was prepared by BEOA.
DoEHR did not monitor BEO, and also there was no direction from the ministry, which led to this situation, found the police in its investigation. DG Sherab Tenzin, as the head of the DoEHR, did not follow the necessary provisions on the Regulation of Bhutanese Overseas Agent (RBOEA) 2013 and 2017 while implementing LEP. Due to his failure as the head of monitoring agency, he has permitted BEOA and agents in Japan to manipulate the laws and gain immense profit. He failed to detect the forgery committed by BEO and study the Japanese labor laws, which resulted in the failure of the LEP, causing great hardship to the economically oppressed students to give up on their dreams, and in some cases, deportation by the Japanese immigration office.
The LEP was hurriedly conceived program to fulfill the ministry’s APA mandate. There are no Terms of Reference (TOR) and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DG Sherab Tenzin’s department and BEO. The DG did not act in the best interest of the citizens of Bhutan and failed in his official capacity to monitor the program.
Under Deceptive Practice, Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden allowed SND under Mr Endo to be the principal agent in Japan for Light Path Co.Ltd. By this act of changing the principal partner without informing MoLHR and the LEP students, he has deceived the students and has committed an offence of Deceptive Practice under section 309 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.
They had also signed an agreement on 16 March 2016 with DoEHR to conduct basic Japanese Language Course by tender for one year from December 2016 to 30 December 2017 for the first three batches of the students. However, he continued to conduct Japanese language course for all the LEP students till October 2018 without renewing the contract. By this act, he has profited himself from the loans of the students, and thus deceiving both the MoLHR and the students.
He had also promised the students that their annual earning in Japan would be Nu 1,110,000 and that they would be provided two part time jobs within three months. He did not mention about the requirement of N2 level in Japanese proficiency language for the first two batches in their contractual agreements. The students were thus deceived as the Japanese laws did not permit more than 28 hours per week.
With this, the BEO has committed an offence of Deceptive Practice under Section 309 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.
On detained investigation, apart from forgery and deceptive practice, BEO was also found to have committed Larceny by Deception by collecting various forms of fees apart from the placement fee.
Placement Fee: A sum of Nu 57,000 each was collected from 730 students by the BEO and the total amount collected was Nu 41,610,000. Most of the students were not aware of the actual amount charged by BEOA as an agent fee.
Documentation Fee: From the first batch consisting of 66 students, a sum of Nu 2,665 was collected from each students and the total amounted to Nu 175,890.
From the second to sixth batches consisting of 664 students, a sum of Nu 2,684 was collected from each students and the total amounted to Nu 1,782,176.
The documentation fee collected was not uniform for all the batches. The extra money collected from 664 students amounted to Nu 12,616. The money collected from the documentation fee had earned interest. The BEO has neither issued any money receipt to the students nor sought any approval from DoEHR.
Translation Fee: A sum of Nu 7,500 each was collected from 730 students as translation fee by BEOA and the total amount collected was Nu 5,475,000. The translation fee money receipt was not issued to any of the students. There was no approval from DoEHR to charge any translation works, and this amount was never transferred to Japan but remained in their account incurring interest till date.
RICBL Loan Insurance: The BEO had collected a sum of Nu 4,000 from 66 individual students as RICBL loan insurance and the total amount collected was Nu 264,000. The actual loan insurance was only Nu 2,382. An extra amount of Nu 1, 618 was collected from each students and total amounted to Nu 106,788. BEO refunded the extra amount of Nu 103,552 in the individual student’s loan account. However, two students of the first batch were not refunded.
The BEO has collected a sum of Nu 3,000 as loan insurance (BDBL) from 44 individual student of the second batch and third batch, and the total amount collected was Nu 1,323,000. The actual loan insurance for second and third batch was Nu 2,779 per student. The extra amount of Nu 221 was collected from 441 students amounting to Nu 97,461.
The loan of first three batches of LEP students was sovereign guarantee by the government. However, Jurmey Tshewang without any written or implied agreement took over the loan of the students and deposited it in their bank account. Tenzin Rigden had also collected sum of Nu 4,000 from each students of first batch as RICB loan insurance. Similarly, he had collected sum of Nu 3,000 each from second to third batch students as RICB loan insurance. By this act of taking over of students’ loans in their account and for illegally over charging the RICB loan amount from the LEP students, Jurmey Tshewang has committed an offence of Larceny by Deception.
Airfare: He has also knowingly collected a sum of Nu 50,000 each from first and second batch of LEP students as airfare. However, the actual airfare was covered within Nu 35,000 to Nu 38,000 depending on student’s destination in Japan. By this act of purposely and knowingly profiting an extra amount of Nu 10,000 to Nu 12,000 from each student of first batch and second batch on airfare. BEO committed an offence of Larceny by Deception under Section 241 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.
Meanwhile, the case has been forwarded to Office of the Attorney General on 22 October.