The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Executive Director (ED) of Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) have been suspended from office since July 6.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) issued the suspension order on the same day.
In exercise of the powers conferred under section 167 of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011, the Commission directed the RICBL’s board of directors to suspend the two employees from service with effect from the date the order was issued.
The suspension order was issued to the chairman of the RICBL board, Topgyal Dorji, Managing Director of Bhutan Ferro Alloys Ltd, Phuentsholing.
The CEO and ED were suspended following investigation of a case concerning collusive practices surrounding the investment of RICBL fund in Nubri Capital Pvt Ltd.
“The commission has ground to believe that there is likelihood of available evidence or witnesses being influenced, removed or tampered thereby impending the investigation proceeding,” the order read.
ACC has directed that service conditions under suspension shall be in accordance with relevant service rules. The suspension shall remain in force unless otherwise rescinded by the Commission. Non-compliance to enforce the Commission’s lawful demand in the course of execution of its functions constitutes an offence under section 113 (1) (c) of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011.
Talking to Business Bhutan, ACC Commissioner Jamtsho said that the Royal Audit Authority forwarded the case to ACC in 2015 after they suspected possible elements of corruption.
“However, since the case is still under investigation all the details cannot be shared.”
ACC also received an anonymous complaint letter in 2016 alleging that the CEO and Executive Director had misused authority and funds.
Meanwhile, ED of RICBL Sonam Dorji told the paper that he is looking for an appropriate time and place to respond to the allegations.
“Now is not the right time to comment on the allegations. I am looking forward to ACC carrying out a fair investigation.”
Sonam Dorji had served as the finance general manager and was later promoted to the post of ED in April 2012.
Reportedly, RICBL had invested Nu 100mn in Nubri Capital Private Limited on February 5, 2013 at an annual interest of 9.25%. However, after four days, RICBL borrowed Nu 108mn from Nubri Capital at a monthly interest of 11.75%.
The Asset Liability Committee of RICBL chaired by the CEO decided to invest in Nubri Capital. The committee discusses issues involving lending and borrowing of money.
Sources revealed that though some members objected to investing money in Nubri, the CEO went against their wishes and gave the green signal, misusing his power.
Nubri Capital is Bhutan’s first fund and Assets Management Company approved by the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA).
They deal in investment management by professionally managing various securities like shares, bonds and assets mostly real estate in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of investors.
An official source from RICBL said that as per the suspension order received from ACC, the board members had an emergency meeting on July 7 to discuss the issue.
“During the meeting, board members decided to suspend the CEO and the ED of RICBL as per ACC directives,” he said.
The official said the board members will be meeting the general managers of RICBL the coming week because business at the corporation should continue as usual.
Chencho Dema from Thimphu