Painting pincher gets the axe

Painting pincher gets the axe

Suphat Saguandeekul, who confessed he stole cheap art off the walls of his hotel in Japan on a taxpayer-funded trip, will keep full pension and medical benefits.
Suphat Saguandeekul, who confessed he stole cheap art off the walls of his hotel in Japan on a taxpayer-funded trip, will keep full pension and medical benefits.

A former high-ranking official of the Department of Intellectual Property has been officially dismissed from his post for stealing paintings at a hotel in Japan two months ago.

However, DIP ex-deputy director-general Suphat Saguandeekul will still be entitled to receive his pension and medical benefits, Dusadee Arayawuth, deputy permanent secretary for justice, said Wednesday.

Pol Col Dusadee, who chaired the disciplinary panel in the case, said Mr Suphat's excuse in which he claimed he committed the theft due to dissatisfaction with the hotel service was unreasonable. The panel members initially agreed to sack Mr Suphat.

However, the probe found Mr Suphat had never breached the disciplinary code of conduct during his 30 years as a state official. Therefore, the punishment was commuted to a mere dismissal, which will appear in his record.

Pol Col Dusadee said the panel examined various aspects of the case including laws and the code of conduct as well as other similar cases involving high-ranking state officials.

Mr Suphat's dismissal was considered appropriate when compared to those officials who had been involved in various degrees of disciplinary action but insisted on their innocence and remained in their posts.

After returning to Thailand, Mr Suphat also expressed regret over the incident to the public, Pol Col Dusadee added. In January, Mr Suphat was arrested for stealing three paintings worth about ¥15,000 (about 4,600 baht) from a hotel in Japan.

He was released from detention in Japan after he paid damages to the hotel and admitted the theft. He has since returned to Thailand and was suspended pending the probe. Mr Suphat later announced his resignation.

Mr Suphat sent an open letter to the media saying the incident occurred while he was drunk.


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