Questions raised over Diageo

Questions raised over Diageo

In August, 2011, these anti-alcohol activists were already protesting at the Empire Tower on Sathorn Road against Diageo Moet Hennessey Thailand, the importer, distributor and bribe centre to sell more Johnnie Walker Red Label and Black Label Scotch whisky. (File photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
In August, 2011, these anti-alcohol activists were already protesting at the Empire Tower on Sathorn Road against Diageo Moet Hennessey Thailand, the importer, distributor and bribe centre to sell more Johnnie Walker Red Label and Black Label Scotch whisky. (File photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Former national anti-graft commissioner Medhi Krongkaew raised questions Monday over the slow progress of the investigation into alleged bribery payments made by a British alcoholic beverage giant to Thai officials in 2011.

In 2011, London-based Diageo plc, which has brands including Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, agreed to pay the US Securities and Exchange Commission more than US$16 million (561 million baht) to resolve Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act offences involving bribes to foreign officials in India, Thailand, and South Korea between 2003 and 2009.

In Thailand, Diageo paid $12,000 per month from 2004 to 2008, totaling almost $600,000, to a Thai government and political-party official for "consulting" services which helped it win favourable decisions from the Thai government in tax and customs disputes.

Since the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) received the information about the alleged bribery case, the NACC's probe has barely progressed, said Mr Medhi.

After US authorities released the information about the bribe payments, he went to the US to contact authorities for the information, said Mr Medhi.

However, as he was not responsible for probing the case, all he could do was forward the information received from the US to the other NACC members who were directly responsible for the investigation, he said.

"I don't know what has been hindering them. The information I sought from the US clearly indicated all the names of who received the bribes," he said.

However, the information given by the US authorities was during the time US authorities were still investigating the case, he said.

Democrat Party deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul, meanwhile, said he was optimistic the Centre for National Anti-Corruption's latest attempt to improve cooperation among the various agencies working to contain corruption will bring about unity in the country's fight against corruption and help eradicate overlapping areas of the work.

The centre has invited the NACC, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Office of the Auditor-General and the Department of Special Investigation to meetings to discuss their roles in corruption investigations into a series of transnational bribery scandals involving Thailand.


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