ACC gives clean chit to former PM over security arrangements

The controversy over the security arrangements at the residence of former Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay has finally concluded with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), finding no corruption or violation of the ACC Act or misuse of resources, announced dropping the case yesterday.

The press release from the ACC clarified that the initial suspicion that the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) may have altered the memo later, basis on which the inquiry started in the first place, stands logically dispelled.

“In the light of this finding, the commission during its meeting on November 11, this year decided that further pursuit for information or effort to resolve any inconsistencies was not necessary and therefore decided to close the case,” states the press release.

According to ACC, they did not find any evidence that the then PM had proposed the wall, however, it came from the security officials. In fact, it was the former PM who had himself forwarded the case to ACC after the Opposition alleged wrongdoing when about Nu 3mn security wall was constructed around his residence based on advice from security agencies. The amount was refunded to the RAA though he was not asked, while later the amount was returned back to him.

The ACC has written to the government to come up with clear procedures on the security protocol for future purposes.

Meanwhile, the amount of around Nu 3mn that was incurred to construct security system at the private residence of former Prime Minister at Taba was brought up by the Opposition last year, describing it as serious form of corruption and that it needs to be investigated.

As per the Audit Report of RAA sent to the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement (MoWHS), it was stated that the security division of Royal Bhutan Police had proposed to the Cabinet Secretary to reinforce and strengthen the security of PM in his newly constructed private residence at Taba as the PM intended to shift there by August 2015.

The proposal included construction of concrete perimeter wall protection on the three sides of the residence, construction of a security duty room with attached bathroom at the entrance gate of the residence, installation of flood light at the four corners of the compound wall to provide adequate lighting at night, and installation of CCTV cameras and secure water supply.

Accordingly, the Cabinet Secretary wrote a letter to the MoWHS Secretary to carry out the construction of the above works and a copy of the letter was also sent to the Finance Secretary to release the required budget vide letter on July 22, 2015.

The Department of Engineering Services, MoWHS, the Department of Public Health, MoH and the supplier M/s Norlha Trading, Thimphu had prepared the design and estimated the cost amounting to Nu 2,832,831.

The Audit Report then mentioned that RAA takes cognizance of the concern of the security division of the RBP to identify the security threat and risk assessments based on the actual and perceived threats against the PM.

It was also stated that the development exchequer was not within the ambit of budgetary programme and activities.

It also solicited the department in consultation with the finance ministry to comment on the course of action to be taken to dispose of the cost of the infrastructures after the tenure of the PM.

Meanwhile, the ACC has recommended the incumbent government and other relevant authorities to communicate and take necessary measures to avoid reoccurrence of similar instance in future, finding that whether the protocol and detailed security guidelines on provision of residential security would include only security personnel, or security infrastructure like compound wall or even both.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu