OAG charges 11 individuals in Japan’s LEP case

OAG charges 11 individuals in Japan’s LEP case

The Office of Attorney General (OAG) forwarded the Japan’s Learn and Earn Program (LEP) case against the owner and a business partner of Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) along with nine other staffs to the district court yesterday.

The OAG charged owner of BEO Jurmey Tshewang and his partner Tenzin Rigden for 697 counts of forgery under section 296 and section 297 (c) of Penal Code of Bhutan for forging the Bank of Bhutan’s (BOB) bank balance and 2, 190 counts of forgery under section 296 and section 297 (d)-forgery of the pay slip of the sponsors of the students.

It is alleged that Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden intentionally forged the BOB’s bank balance statement as they were aware the students of LEP would not be granted visa by the Japanese government without the statements.

The statements, according to the OAG, were forged in their own office computer, printed and provided to 730 students of LEP.

Additionally, they were charged for forging 2,190 salary statements (pay slips) for three years. It was found that the false pay slips were forged on Bhutan Insurance Limited employee pay slips and other guarantors’ pay slips.

They were also charged with 730 counts of larceny by deception for illegally deducting Nu 7,500 as translation fee from each student amounting to Nu 54,74,000 and were asked to refund the amount.

The OAG decided to alter the charge against Dorji Tshering, the person who forged the BOB’s round seal electronically from aiding and abetting to forgery under section 296 and section 297(c).

The OAG also charged eight other staffs responsible for inserting the details of the sponsors on the BOB statement and forging the pay slips from failure to report crime to aiding and abetting forgery.

Finding no conclusive evidence to prove that the agents deceptively kept the money and not rendered services, the OAG dropped other charges against Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden regarding larceny by deception on visa fee, air fare, insurance fee and documentation fee.

Additionally, it stated that those charges are to be borne by the students and if the agency is found to have charged more than the actual cost, they are directed to refund the extra cost, which is administrative in nature as per the Regulations on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent 2017 (REOBA).

Moreover, the OAG decided to drop the charge of deceptive practice against Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden on not intimating the Department of Employment and Human Resources (DoEHR) regarding the change in principal agent from Light Path Cooperation Limited to Support for New Departure.

It was found that on the ground, it’s the responsibility of the agent to inform the DoEHR and as far as the program is concerned both the BEO and the principal agent have served its purpose to the students.

Therefore, the failure of BEO to notify and seek approval from DoEHR is administrative in nature.

Additionally, the charge of deceptive practice against Jurmey tshewang and Tenzin Rigden on continuing the services of providing the Japanese course even after the expiry of the contract signed with DoEHR was dropped on the ground that it is also administrative in nature as per the REOBA.

On the charge of deceptive practice against Jurmey Tshewang and Tenzin Rigden on non-disclosure of information regarding the requirement of N2 level and 28 working hours per week, the OAG dropped the charge on the ground that the second agreement which was amended after consulting and meeting with labor ministry that was notified to the students and the students were well aware regarding the change in clauses.

A copy of minutes of the meeting held between labor ministry and the concerned parties were duly taken into consideration by BEO and the changes made to the agreement and compliance of the first agreement were both notified and acknowledged by the students, according to the OAG.

The OAG also dropped the charge against Director General, DoEHR, Sherub Tenzin for official misconduct finding that there is no specific failure on the part of the DoEHR as there was no records of change in principal agent or record on charging extra from the students filed by the students.

Moreover, he is charged in a separate case for his failure to administer requisite document to the authorities for licensing of the oversea agency.

Meanwhile, the OAG dropped the charges against other two employees finding that there was no conclusive evidence to prove that the individuals participated in committing the aforementioned crimes.

However, the OAG decided to charge four individuals separately only after getting their representatives confirmed through power of attorney to represent them in the court since they are out of country, two each in Japan and Australia respectively.

Earlier, the Royal Bhutan Police charged the BEO and the DG, DoEHR for forgery, official misconduct, aiding and abetting, failure to report crime and larceny by deception.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu