The 12 victims were allegedly conned by the program officer
The Thimphu district court has ordered the prosecution to collect Nu 3.10mn (restitution amount) from defendant Thinley Phuntsho, former program officer of the Best Placement Agent (BPA), and hand it over to the respective 12 victims (students) within one-month time.
The criminal bench I rendered the judgment on April 9 this year, concerning the case of the Office of Attorney General (OAG) against Thinley Phuntsho for larceny by deception and official misconduct. The case was chargesheet in 2019.
Meanwhile, the case was put up to the court after the OAG, while reviewing a fraud case involving Thinley Phuntsho (the former program officer of BPA), was allegedly found to have cheated over 12 students of more than Nu 2mn while serving as the agency’s program officer.
The students had applied to go to Malaysia through the ‘Learn and Earn Program’, but were allegedly conned by the program officer.
According to the OAG, the program officer allegedly misused money meant for tuition fees and air tickets. He is also accused of fraudulently making agreements with the students, transacting money worth over Nu 2mn, and misusing the company’s name, seal, and logo.
Meanwhile, the students have asked for refunds from the overseas employment agent that was referred to them by the BPA.
The students alleged the firm of fraudulent practices in fund usage, visa processing and renewal, and air tickets, among others. The students are waiting for the agent to pay back their money, amounting to around Nu 200,000 to 400,000 depending on the university and course they chose.
According to the judgment, the defendant, Thinley Phuntsho, has refunded almost Nu 722,351 to 12 victims, so he has been ordered to pay almost Nu 884,838 as an interest amount to the victims.
“It is evident that Thinley Phuntsho did not intentionally adjust the tuition fees of the 12 students (victims) but merely to fulfill his proprietor’s directions and also secure his job,” states the judgment.
Pertaining to the charge for official misconduct, the defendant is found guilty for not keeping record of the clients (students) and is convicted for a minimum of one year or pay Thrimthue in lieu of imprisonment.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu