Case 07/2015- Embezzlement at RICBL branch, Paro

The Commission conducted this investigation into alleged embezzlement of funds by one Accountant/cashier working at Paro Branch of the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd. (RICBL). The RICBL Head Office reported to the Commission that the cashier had misappropriated about Nu.93.00 million of RICBL funds from one Current Deposit Account maintained with the Bhutan National Bank Ltd (BNBL) Branch in Paro. At the time when the Commission received this report, the cashier had already absconded from the country after being alerted of the internal audit enquiry. He was later tracked down in Nepal and extradited back to Bhutan in June 2015. The RICBL management also suspected the involvement of other staff in the RICBL and the staff of Bhutan National Bank Ltd. (BNBL) branch office, Paro.

The investigation revealed that the financial improprieties had started as early as 2011. The investigation found that the accused had connived with some of the staff of BNBL branch office, Paro to embezzle and conceal the funds from the RICBL management by submitting rigged bank statements every month and forged yearly balance confirmation certificates to the RICBL Head Office in Thimphu where bank reconciliation was being done. Furthermore, he forged RICBL cheques, made unauthorized bank withdrawals with the help of some bank staff and his friends, and also made payments through RICBL cheques to various individuals including some of the bank’s staff for his personal purposes such as buying properties and lending money. The modus operandi adopted by the alleged evolved over time. Initially, he replaced the embezzled funds at the end of every month for reconciliation purposes. However, some of the fund replacements were done through manipulation of card loan accounts of the RICBL clients, and cash shortages were carried forward from one month to another. The account shortfall kept on increasing with this scheme and he was finding it difficult to adjust for reconciliation purposes for which he was required to submit bank statements to the head office on a periodic basis. Then, he sought help from one female staff member, an IT Assistant in the BNBL branch office, Paro, who eventually became his main partner in crime. She helped in generating rigged bank statements using backdating options in the system which showed more bank balance than what actually was. This was done to conceal unauthorized withdrawals and avoid detection during the bank reconciliation at the head office. Overtime, the IT Assistant befriended and took advantage of the accused to obtain money whenever she needed, which essentially came out of the RICBL account. The investigation determined that the total embezzled fund amounted to Nu. 136.000 million. The investigation discovered that the cashier had acquired many debt-free assets including vehicles, lent money to many friends and maintained a living style incommensurate to his lawful income. 

The Commission referred the case to OAG on 29 April 2016 recommending prosecution of 35 individuals including bank staff and local businessmen.

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