Cop shop panel finds no graft

DSI to grill Wichean over sole-contractor approval

The Royal Thai Police panel probing allegations of fraud in the construction of police stations across the country said yesterday its initial investigation had found no evidence of corruption.

Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit presents evidence to back alleged irregularities in the Royal Thai Police Office’s 5.8-billion-baht police station construction project. APICHART JINAKUL

Pol Gen Jate Mokolhatthee, who chairs the committee, said the panel has yet to dig up any proof of fraud in the 5.8-billion-baht project involving the construction of 396 police stations.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is looking into the corruption allegations as well, and is treating it as a special case.

Pol Gen Jate said his committee would ask the DSI to share the evidence that led the agency to suspect that the project was fraudulent. "With the evidence they have, the DSI might be able to see irregularities which we police do not see," he said.

The committee had looked into the drafting of the terms of reference for the project and the bidding for the contract, and found that every step was in accordance with the law, he said.

The winning bidder was proven to be well-qualified, said Pol Gen Jate.

However, he said the results of the committee's preliminary probe were based on the inspection of project documents only, and no witnesses had been questioned yet.

The failure of PCC Development and Construction Co, the sole contractor in the project, to complete the construction in time should be regarded as a civil case, not a criminal matter, he said.

The Royal Thai Police will consider suing the contractor for its failure to comply with the construction contract, he said.

Pol Gen Jate said his committee is required to wrap up its investigation and forward the results to the national police chief before March 14, the day the contract granted to PCC expires.

The DSI will question former national police chief Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree today about his role in approving the police station project, Thanin Prempree, deputy director of the Bureau of Special Crime 2 of the DSI, said.

Pol Gen Wichean, who is now a permanent-secretary for transport, was police chief when the Royal Thai Police asked then-deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban to sign a contract to hire PCC as the sole contractor, Mr Thanin said. He said Pol Gen Wichean had contacted the DSI to inform them he was ready to meet at 9.30am today.

Mr Thanin said the DSI had a clearer picture about the former national police chiefs' roles in the project after questioning former national police chief Pol Gen Prateep Tanprasert and Pol Maj Gen Puwadol Wuthakanok.

Pol Maj Gen Puwadol, who is now deputy commissioner of the Office of Information and Communication Technology, was chief of the quartermaster and ordnance division during Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon's tenure as national police chief. He testified to the DSI on behalf of Pol Gen Patcharawat.

"We now know who was responsible for what, and why the bidding method was changed from nine bids to a single bid," Mr Thanin said.

About the author

columnist
Writer: King-oua Laohong
Position: Reporter