Failure of Alpha probe

Failure of Alpha probe

One of the worst and most costly fraud cases in recent memory was wrongly declared over last week. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) brought its investigation of the purchase of Alpha-6 fake narcotics detectors to a close. Astoundingly, this relatively simple case took the self-styled graft busters 10 years to conclude. The announcement that formally closed the books on the case echoed the supreme failure to tackle the case forthrightly, investigate honestly, act transparently and, finally, identify and bring accountability and the law to bear on those responsible.

The winding up the Alpha-6 investigation was little more than farce. According to the final report, three previously obscure officials in the office of the Phitsanulok governor were responsible for the fraud and its fallout. They had been assigned to buy Alpha-6 "narcotics detectors" in 2008. According to the hugely flawed NACC probe, the three members are responsible for an inflated price quote and for purchasing without the correct paperwork.

In fact, everything about the "drug detectors" was a scam. British con men convinced Thai officials, including some at the very highest positions, that empty plastic boxes with an aerial could not just detect illicit drugs but tell the operator what sort of drugs were involved. In the end, the interior ministry, police and others handed 350 million baht to the scammers in return for 493 of the worthless boxes. Far from the NACC claim that the probably bewildered Phitsanulok province officials paid inflated prices, the truth is that the whole consignment wasn't worth one baht.

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