Rolls-Royce scandal fails to snare politicians

Rolls-Royce scandal fails to snare politicians

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has in its preliminary probe into the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal found no link to any Thai politicians, NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljeak said yesterday.

In the investigation being conducted to prove whether certain state officials at PTT Plc and PTT Exploration and Production Plc were involved in the scandal, the people named as suspects are high-level executives and members of the companies' procurement committees, Mr Sansern said.

He said he could not reveal the names of the suspects being investigated at this point.

If any politicians are found to have been involved a request will be made to add them to the list of suspects to be probed, he said.

Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajakit, the NACC chairman, said the commission has set up a sub-committee to conduct a fact-finding probe into three of the six projects previously suspected of being tainted by bribes linked to the Rolls-Royce scandal.

The sub-committee comprises three NACC members -- Supha Piyajitti, Surasak Khiriwichian and Pol Gen Sathaporn Laothong, said Pol Gen Watcharapol.

A list of suspects was scheduled to be investigated including members of the procurement committees and a group of PTT executives, he said. The sub-committee has also assigned state agencies to request more information regarding the scandal from the US Department of Justice, he said.

The engineering giant Rolls-Royce admitted misconduct in January at the High Court in London, a day after it was revealed it would pay £671m to settle long-running corruption allegations.

The settlement was reached five years after investigators from the UK, US and Brazil started to scrutinise allegations the firm had hired middlemen to pay bribes and win contracts.

Mr Sansern said earlier in March certain politicians were likely to have had a hand in the kickback scandal in which Rolls-Royce allegedly paid bribes to state-owned natural gas and oil firm PTT Plc.

Around the same time the NACC began gathering facts in relation to his allegation that US$11 million was paid to the energy firm in return for contracts for equipment and aftermarket products and services.

The Rolls-Royce scandal allegedly involves two major state enterprises, Thai Airways International and PTT Plc.

Rolls-Royce told Britain's Serious Fraud Office earlier it paid 254 million baht to individuals to help it secure a deal with the Thai government to purchase Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines for six Boeing 777 aircraft and Trent 500 engines for seven Airbus A340 aircraft.

The bribery is believed to have taken place between 1991 and 2005 with US$36.38 million paid to "regional intermediaries".


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