COP SHOP SCANDAL
Former national police chief Wichean Potephosree insists the Royal Thai Police Office's selection of a contractor to build 396 police stations was above board.
Pol Gen Wichean, now permanent secretary of the Transport Ministry, testified to Department of Special Investigation (DSI) interrogators yesterday.
He said that during his term as the national police chief from Sept 2, 2010, to Oct 14, 2011, he had asked then-deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban to approve the selection of PCC Development and Construction Co as the contractor for the police station construction project.
"I insist that actions at every stage were in accordance with government regulations," Pol Gen Wichean said.
Thanin Prempree, deputy chief of the DSI's Bureau of Special Crime 2, said the DSI would summon a representative of the Budget Bureau to explain the regulations relating to the police station project. He added that the DSI had yet to decide if it should question any national police chief involved in the execution of the construction contract.
Regarding the report that a probe committee of the Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO) has found neither corruption nor bid rigging in the construction project, Mr Thanin said that was the judgement of the police. It would not affect the DSI's investigation. DSI director-general Tarit Pengdith said without a complaint from the RTPO, however, his department could not exercise its full investigative power.
Mr Tarit said his department would try to find more evidence to convince the RTPO, which was the party directly damaged in the case, to file a complaint.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the wrongdoing occurred when the contractor subcontracted the work because the RTPO forbid it to do so. The police office sought to implement the construction as a single contract.
Mr Chalerm also wondered why the 5.8-billion-baht contract had to be awarded to only one contractor. He said that on June 9, 2009, the construction had been planned to involve many but six months later it had been ordered to be awarded to a single firm.
New police stations under the project have been left unfinished nationwide as subcontractors have complained PCC Development and Construction is not paying them. The deadline for completion is March 14 and it will certainly not be met, Mr Chalerm said.
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- Writer: King-oua Laohong