Probe targets 70 state officials

Probe targets 70 state officials

Prayut says those on list only suspended

Gen Anupong Paojinda, Minister of Interior: In charge of corruption and abuse-of-power investigations. (Post Today file photo)
Gen Anupong Paojinda, Minister of Interior: In charge of corruption and abuse-of-power investigations. (Post Today file photo)

The Interior Ministry will set up a committee to investigate 70 government officials who have been suspended on suspicion of alleged abuse of power or corruption after the latest list of suspect officeholders was released on Tuesday.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said that of the officials, two were from the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning and 61 were from the Department of Local Administration. They will be probed in accordance with the law, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the officials have not been removed from their positions. If the investigations come up empty, the officials will be able to resume working in their posts, he said.

Gen Prayut said 40% of all such cases being investigated have been concluded. Those officials found guilty of wrongdoing have faced disciplinary measures, including transfers or a reduction in pensions.

Those who have been implicated in multiple instances of wrongdoing will be processed in the legal system in accordance with the law, he said.

The latest 70-person list is the ninth to have been ordered under Section 44 of the interim charter since May 2015.

Secretary-general of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, Prayong Preeyajit, said the PACC will next week submit information on those listed officials to their agencies and supervisors for internal investigation. The PACC will also conduct a parallel investigation.

Each agency has 30 days to probe and send a report to the PACC, which will collate the reports within another 30 days, said Mr Prayong.

He said it was not surprising that many of those being suspended pending investigation were from local administrative agencies as there are a lot of such agencies nationwide. According to the complaints from the public, many of the cases are procurement related.

Mr Prayong said the PACC's procedures are aimed at pushing supervisors to be strict about discipline and transparency. If they fail on that count, they will be responsible for the irregularities.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam after a meeting Wednesday with Mr Prayong that the government will disclose the results of its probe into over 300 officials being investigated after previous orders.

A total of 353 government officials have been suspended from their posts pending investigation.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Auditor-General, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Department of Special Investigation and the Royal Thai Police are also helping probe suspected officials.

Meanwhile, some officials from the Nakhon Si Thammarat Municipal Administration, who asked not to be named, expressed relief after Chaonawat Senapong, the mayor, and Sanan Silarat, Provincial Administrative Organisation chief, were among the 70 names on the latest list.

The Regional Office of the Auditor General 14 recently found alleged irregularities in a 13.4-million-baht project to renovate the province's central stadium, as well as an alleged attempt to give contracts to a private company for a multi-million baht waterworks project, which many said was impractical.

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