The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will recommend embezzlement charges be laid against well-known TV show host Sorayuth Suthassanachinda and other staff of state-run media agency Mcot Plc.
News anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda at TV Channel 3 in Bangkok for his programme yesterday after the National Anti-Corruption Commission found he and his company withheld 138 million baht in TV advertising fees from Mcot Plc seven years ago. PATTARACHAI PREECHAPANICH
The NACC said they had been found to conspire to withhold 138 million baht in advertising revenue sharing from Mcot seven years ago.
NACC spokesman Klanarong Chanthik said the management of Mcot asked police to take legal action against the suspects in 2007. Police then forwarded the case to the NACC as it involved government staff.
The investigation by the anti-graft agency found that in June 2003 Mcot contracted Sorayuth to be the daily host for its Thueng Luk Thueng Khon news programme on TV Channel 9 for 5,000 baht an episode.
The programme proved popular. In February 2004, Sorayuth founded Rai Som Co and acted as its managing director. The company had a contract with Mcot to produce the show from Feb 1, 2005 to July 15, 2006.
Rai Som also had a contract to produce the Kui Kui Khao news programme on weekends, which was aired from 12pm to 1pm.
Rai Som sold ads for the programme and any income beyond the given five-minute commercial time the company sold had to be handed over to Mcot. Sorayuth allegedly paid Mcot staff to help conceal the records of the actual income beyond five minutes of advertising airtime.
Rai Som was required to pay Mcot at least 200,000 baht per minute of additional advertising time sold for the programme.
Rai Som used more than its allocated advertising airtime but Sorayuth made six payments by cheque worth a total of 739,770.50 baht to Pichapa Iamsa-ard, an Mcot employee tasked with recording commercials, to conceal the actual airtime sold for advertisements. The NACC said Ms Pichapa managed to conceal the recordings of the additional advertising time of Rai Som from Feb 4, 2005, to June 30, 2006.
In July 2006, Boonthanik Boonsin, acting assistant president of Mcot, found out about the irregularity because a midnight news show of the channel was delayed. Ms Pichapa was questioned and confessed she acted in accordance with requests from Sorayuth and Montha Theeradet, a director of Rai Som.
She was quoted as saying that Rai Som used more than its allocated advertising time, that she had used correction fluid to erase the recordings of Rai Som's commercials that exceeded the allowed time and she did not report the additional amounts of time used for advertising to Mcot.
The withheld advertising revenue sharing was estimated at 138.79 million baht. On Aug 31, 2006, Rai Som paid 103.95 million baht to Mcot and sought a 30% discount.
Mcot disagreed and also charged 7.5% interest which amounted to about 4.64 million baht from April 1, 2005, to Oct 20, 2006. Rai Som paid the remaining sum on Oct 20, 2006.
In 2008, Rai Som filed its complaint with the Administrative Court and demanded Mcot pay it the alleged 253 million baht worth of overdue advertising revenue sharing. The company claimed Mcot's advertising time also exceeded its contracted time during the company's programmes. The court has not yet ruled on the case.
The NACC concluded that Ms Pichapa committed serious disciplinary offences and criminal offences under the law on the wrongdoing of government officials and under the Criminal Code.
The anti-graft commission found Ms Anya Uthai, Ms Pichapa's supervisor, to have been negligent but withdrew a criminal charge against her.
The commission concluded Mr Sorayuth, Ms Montha and their Rai Som company supported the wrongdoing of Ms Pichapa. It will ask the Attorney-General to take criminal action against the parties.
Mr Sorayuth refused to comment on the matter yesterday.
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