Watana denies Thaksin link to bribery
Watana Muangsook, a former Pheu Thai Party MP, has insisted the administration of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra had nothing to do with the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.
Former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who is chairman of the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation, on Tuesday also denied any involvement in the bribery scandal. The bribery did not take place during the period when he served as transport minister between 1997-2000, he said.
Mr Watana wrote on Facebook the bribe payments of 254 million baht which Rolls-Royce allegedly made for the purchase of its aircraft engines used by Thai Airways International (THAI) were not linked to the Thaksin administration.
He said some journalists had tried to tie the scandal to the Thaksin government, citing a cabinet resolution on Nov 23, 2003 which approved the purchase of 14 aircraft for THAI worth 96.35 billion baht.
Mr Watana explained the cabinet resolution endorsed the purchase of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, not Rolls-Royce engines, proposed by THAI.
The purchase needed cabinet approval only because the price was high at 96.35 billion baht and THAI might need a government-guaranteed loan, Mr Watana wrote.
He said the technical details, types of aircraft and engines had always been determined by THAI.
Rolls-Royce admitted to bribing agents of the Thai state and THAI employees spanning three periods. The bribery involves a total US$36.38 million (1.28 billion baht) payment to "regional intermediaries".
The first period was between June 1, 1991 and June 30, 1992. The second period was between March 1, 1992 and March 31, 1997.
The third period took place between April 1, 2004-Feb 28, 2005, which corresponded to the Thaksin administration.
Also Tuesday, National Anti-Corruption Commission secretary-general Sansern Poljeak signed an order setting up a panel to investigate THAI's alleged involvement in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal, as well as to look into allegations that Rolls-Royce Energy Systems paid bribes worth about 385 million baht to officials at the national oil and gas conglomerate PTT Plc, and its subsidiary PTT Exploration and Production Plc, to purchase power generators and equipment between 2000-2013.