Akara Resources to face DSI probe over alleged proxy use
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will investigate Akara Resources Plc -- a gold mining company operating in the northeastern region -- after it was accused of using proxy shareholders by a civic group.
Pol Lt Gen Korrawat Panprapakorn, director-general of the DSI, told the media on Friday he had informed DSI teams to investigate accusations against the company, including the use of proxy shareholders, an offence under the Foreign Business Act.
The DSI's deputy director-general, Pol Lt Col Supat Thamthanarug, was assigned to take charge of the investigation into the proxy shareholder matter.
The DSI had earlier investigated two cases against Akara Resources, formerly known as Akara Mining Limited, which operated gold mines in Phetchabun and Phichit. The DSI has already submitted these case dossiers to prosecutors and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Yet, the decision to look into the proxy shareholders accusation is in response to a complaint lodged by a civic group called "Civic Group for Mineral and Gold Mining Reform" earlier this year.
The group also accused the company of operating a mine beyond its licensed zone, discharging hazardous substances into the environment and having questionable financial transaction and tax payment issues.
On Feb 25, the DSI set up a committee to review information and the accusations made by the group before it decided to take up the case.
"The department carefully studied this Akara mining case and concluded that it was having impacts on the public," Pol Lt Col Supat said.
"The DSI chief has instructed all officers responsible for this case to ensure fairness for all sides."
He also urged those affected by the gold mines to contact the department.
In 2016, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, then head of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order, invoked Section 44 of the military government's interim charter to suspend mining operations. He cited villager complaints that discharged waste from the mine had poisoned the environment and their health.
Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd, the parent company of Akara Resources, which operated the Chatree gold mine in Phichit, started arbitration under an Australian free trade agreement to recover losses it claimed to have suffered after the government suspended its gold mine operation.