By Tandin Dhendup
The recent Annual Audit Report published by the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has revealed some glaring incidences of corruption and misappropriation of funds in the country.
While close to Nu 4 Billion were reported in irregularities in 2020, the RAA report revealed glaring loopholes especially in the road and construction sector where significant anomalies were cited in the Department of Roads throughout the country.
Another gray area that reported most anomalies was in relation to awarding works and tenders. Most of the time it was found that funds were utilized for works that were either not completed or were of inferior quality.
However, the misappropriation of funds by one female account assistant in Trashigang, which runs to millions, was the single most incident that revealed how individuals can siphon huge amounts if proper check and balance was not in place.
The RAA reported that the Phongmey Gewog Assistant, Samten Lhamo, has misappropriated funds amounting to Nu 3.369 million.
The report further states that of the many lapses against her, the Accounts Assistant had misappropriated funds aggregating to Nu. 1.844 million by making bank withdrawals through her husband, Tshering Penjor.
The Accounts Assistant had also misused Nu. 0.465 million in 2018-2019, Nu.1.179 million in 2017-2018 and Nu. 0.200 million in 2016-2017.
Cases against her include misappropriation of cheques and fraudulent cheque writing among a host of other allegations labeled on her. In one case it was even reported that the perpetrator had brought personal accessories like car and kiras.
The same woman had also significant unresolved irregularities amounted to Nu. 2.364 million in Shongphu gewog.
According to the RAA, the Accounts Assistant of the Gewog Administration, Shongphu had forged the Gup’s signature in the handing taking note.
The handing taking note was executed between the incoming and the outgoing Accounts. It is said the outgoing Accounts Assistant did not inform the Gup regarding the handing taking note and forged his signature while she was serving in the gewog.
Further, RAA states, the supervising officers at the Dzongkhag and Gewog offices were unaware of such deceptive and fraudulent practices perpetrated by the outgoing Accounts Assistant.
The forged signature of Gup and GAO were reported in nine cheques aggregating to Nu. 0.985 million.
The Accounts Assistant had also created fictitious names in PEMS to avoid reflecting her name in vouchers.
Further, the same woman had misappropriated Gewog funds amounting to Nu 4.428 while she was serving as the Account Assistant of Tadhi Gewog in the same dzongkhag.
RAA revealed that a fund aggregating to Nu. 1.042 million was misappropriated by the perpetrator through cheque withdrawals without any supporting documents.
In addition, Nu 0.287 million was misappropriated in 2018-2019 and Nu. 0.755 million in 2016-2017. The Accounts Assistant had prepared the cheques in her name and withdrawn in cash.
The Accounts Assistant further misappropriated fund aggregating to Nu. 1.334 million by making bank withdrawals through her husband. She had misused Nu. 0.124 million in 2018-2019, Nu. 1.100 million in 2017-2018 and Nu. 0.100 million in 2016-2017.
The RAA reported that the woman was involved in a host of corruption activities and had siphoned huge amounts with the help of her husband. She had even brought expensive jewelries and items personal use including a car.