Agencies probe 'bribes' at massage parlour

Agencies probe 'bribes' at massage parlour

The raid at the Nataree Massage, a massage parlour on Ratchadaphisek Road detained 121 women, including under-age sex workers and foreigners. But it also resulted in seizure of an incriminating 'little black book' that appeared to list bribes. (Main photo by Pattanapong Hirunard; list and annotations via Twitter/RichardBarrow)
The raid at the Nataree Massage, a massage parlour on Ratchadaphisek Road detained 121 women, including under-age sex workers and foreigners. But it also resulted in seizure of an incriminating 'little black book' that appeared to list bribes. (Main photo by Pattanapong Hirunard; list and annotations via Twitter/RichardBarrow)

State agencies whose officials may have profited from the sex trade at a massage parlour raided by police on Tuesday night are expected to conduct their own investigations in order to get swifter results, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) chief says.

PACC secretary-general Prayong Preeyajit claimed that agencies possibly implicated are in the middle of determining the facts about the case.

The raid on the massage parlour on Ratchadaphisek Road called Nataree Massage netted more than 120 female sex workers, including foreigners and victims of human trafficking. The raid was launched by officials from the Department of Provincial Administration, prompted by a tip-off from a non-governmental organisation.

The authorities seized books recording bribes, listing what is believed to be the abbreviated names of law enforcement agencies which allegedly pocketed monthly kickbacks from the parlour.

Mr Prayong said the PACC officials who took part as observers in the raid will report their findings to the commission.

He said that from the alleged bribery payment records, the agencies which may be referred to are likely to set up separate probes to find out whether their officials were involved. If so, the officials will initially face disciplinary action, which is easier and faster than filing criminal charges.

Without solid evidence and witness accounts, it may be hard to seek the prosecution of the officials, the source said, noting the abbreviated names on the alleged bribery list may not carry much weight as evidence.

The source added that if the heads of the agencies in question fail to take any action in response to the bribe-taking, they risk facing legal action for dereliction of duty if the names of the state agencies on the list are validated.

The source also said there must be an investigation into whether the massage parlour carried out any illegal work on the building where it was operating.

If this is the case, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, which is in charge of issuing building licences, might be asked to explain this.

Pol Gen Dechanarong Suthichanbancha, spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said three books recording bribery payments were seized from the reception counter of the massage parlour. Only one book was shown to the media.

It was found that over 300,000 baht in bribes was paid monthly to a number of state officials, each one picking up between 5,000 baht and some close to 80,000 baht, said Pol Gen Dechanarong.

The books also contained the telephone numbers of the bribe takers, he said.

The massage parlour was found to make up to 19 million baht a month from illicit activities, with more than 400 prostitutes working in rotation to service customers, he said.


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