Graft busters say 4 officials demanded B20m bribe from Japanese firm

Graft busters say 4 officials demanded B20m bribe from Japanese firm

Voravit Sukboon, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), announces the findings of a probe into an alleged 20-million-baht bribe involving four senior local officials in Nakhon Si Thammarat in a power plant project. (File photo)
Voravit Sukboon, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), announces the findings of a probe into an alleged 20-million-baht bribe involving four senior local officials in Nakhon Si Thammarat in a power plant project. (File photo)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found four senior local officials guilty of demanding a 20-million-baht bribe from a Japanese firm hired to build a power plant in Nakhon Si Thammarat in exchange for allowing oversized boats to use a port.

Sino-Thai Engineering Construction and Construction Plc and its two executives were also found guilty of supporting the four officials in receiving the bribe.

Voravit Sukboon, secretary-general of the NACC, said on Wednesday that the anti-graft agency’s investigation committee resolved that the four officials had colluded in demanding the bribe from representatives of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd (MHPS), hired to build the Khanom power plant.

He named the four officials as Cdr Sathit Chinnavorn, director of Nakhon Si Thammarat Marine Office; Khanin Muangduang, deputy mayor of tambon Thong Nian municipality; Apichart Sawasdirat, village head of Moo 8 in tambon Thong Nian; and Pol Lt Col Santipong Phansawat, inspector at Marine Police 4, according to the NACC’s press release.

The NACC had gathered evidence both from within the country and abroad concerning the bribe allegations involving the four Thai officials. 

According to the NACC, a consortium comprising the Japanese firm and Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc had been hired to build a gas-fired power plant in Khanom district of Nakhon Si Thammarat in 2013.  

The bribery took place during the equipment and machinery transport process in February 2015, when three boats used to deliver equipment had not received permission to moor at the port near the power plant as the boats were too large for the pier to accommodate.

The four state officials then demanded a bribe totalling 20 million baht from the representatives of MHPS in exchange for allowing the oversized boats to deliver the equipment from abroad to the port.

MHPS executives had decided to pay the 20-million-baht bribe to the four officials for fear that the delay in delivery would cause construction to fall behind schedule. The firm would not be able to hand over the project in time and would be liable to a fine of 40 million yen a day -- about 11 million baht -- for a breach of the contract, according to the NACC’s investigation.

The fact-finding probe also found Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc and its two executives -- Pakpoom Srichamni and Rakesh Kalia -- guilty of assisting the state officials to receive the bribe from the Japanese firm. They had prepared a contract to pave the way for Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc to pay the bribe money, which was later handed over to the representatives of the Japanese firm at Sino-Thai headquarters. The money was later brought to Khanom district where it was delivered to the four state officials, said the NACC in its findings.

The NACC investigation committee found Cdr Sathit, Mr Khanin, Mr Apichart and Pol Lt Col Santipong guilty of criminal offences for demanding or receiving a bribe from others and of malfeasance or dereliction of duty in violation of Criminal Codes 149 and 157.

The NACC recommended that Mr Khanin, as the deputy Thong Nian municipality mayor, be dismissed from his post and that the three other officials face serious disciplinary offences.

The construction giant and its two executives face criminal charges for supporting the state officials to commit the offences in violation of Criminal Codes 149 and 157.


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