Case 14/2012 – Embezzlement at Royal Bhutanese Embassy Bangkok

This investigation arose as a result of a formal report referred by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in December 2011 after initial inquiry by a Fact-Finding team despatched by the government in March 2011 had revealed shortage of US$ 241,343 and unsettled medical bills of over Thai Baht (THB) 12.629 million with several private hospitals in Bangkok. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) was compelled to liquidate this outstanding to avert legal suit threatened by some affected hospitals in Bangkok. The matter came to the Commission after the accused who was the Head of Chancery failed to account and resolved the financial irregularities which he personally handled despite repeated notices served by the MoFA and the Embassy. About the same time, the Commission also received a formal report from the MoFA implicating the same accused for failing to refund US$10,820 relating to procurement for the 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit held at Thimphu in 2010.

 The Commission conducted the investigation from November 2012 until June 2013. The investigation revealed that from July 2008 to December 2010, the accused had defrauded the MoF to adjust the medical advance of Nu. 7.748 million (equivalent of US$ 167,536 or THB 5.823 million) in respect of 17 Bhutanese patients whose medical bills were never settled with hospitals despite MoF having remitted the money in advance. In a separate incident, he had misappropriated Nu. 2.816 million (equivalent of US$ 54,671.69 or THB 1.728 million) received for the settlement of medical bills of a private patient. The investigation also found that the accused had grossly abused his official position to extend undue advantage to his family members. Between 2008 to 2010, he had frequently admitted his ailing mother without prior approval from the competent authority. He left her medical expense bills unattended which over time escalated to staggering THB 3.723 million (equivalent to Nu.6.032 million). The accused had also failed to refund Nu. 492,980.67 (equivalent to US$ 10,384.74) in relation to procurement for the 16th SAARC Summit in 2010 in spite of repeated reminders served to him by the MoFA between June 2010 till November 2011. The investigation also revealed that the accused had engaged in a fraudulent scheme in relation to his Foreign Service benefits relating to his accommodation lease. From March 2009 till August 2011, he had pocketed about THB 165,000 to his benefit by arranging an inflated rental lease agreement with a certain landlord. 

The investigation concluded that the accused had most likely misused government fund to feed his addictive gambling habit and ostentatious lifestyle. Between August 2010 to August 2011, he made 33 clandestine round trips (mostly overnight) to Singapore during which he had frequented the iconic Marina Bay Sands. Most of these covert flights to Singapore were overnight which remained oblivious to his superiors and colleagues in the embassy who presumed him to be on VIP procurement duty.

The Commission forwarded the matter to the Office of the Attorney General on 5 February 2015.

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