Lottery audio clip dismissed as a 'joke'

Lottery audio clip dismissed as a 'joke'

PM aide's excuse backed by minister

Prime Minister's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai has vouched for Seksakol Atthawong, an aide to the prime minister, following the release of an audio clip that suggests he may have a vested interest in the government's lottery ticket quota.

Mr Anucha, who leads a government committee tasked with addressing the problem of overpriced lottery tickets, yesterday confirmed that Mr Seksakol, who heads a sub-committee investigating the issue, and other sub-committee members are honest and free of any vested interests.

"Mr Seksakol has the determination to tackle the problem. I confirm that none of the sub-committee members are involved in corruption," Mr Anucha said. "None have taken advantage of the government's lottery tickets for their own gain. There is no special lottery ticket quota. The issue is ready to be scrutinised."

Mr Anucha said several committees set up by the government are trying to overcome the overpricing of lottery tickets and make sure prices will not exceed the 80-baht legal limit nationwide by June.

The clip -- posted on Facebook by lawyer Sittha Biabangkerd -- was a phone conversation between a man and a woman.

In the clip, a man was heard telling a woman he took 15 million baht from another man and used it to finance an election campaign. He also said that he didn't know the man from whom he took the money had something to do with lottery quotas. The problem is the police working on solving overpriced lotteries were going to arrest that man, he said. If that were allowed to happen, the man could expose him for taking his money.

Both Mr Seksakol and Mrs Jureeporn Sinthuprai, a member of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, later admitted that the voices on the leaked audio clip were theirs. However, Mr Seksakol said the conversation was a joke and part of it was doctored to discredit the government.

On Monday, Mr Seksakol and Ms Jureeporn lodged a complaint with Dusit Police against a man identified only as "Gig", who allegedly recorded the conversation between the pair.

Mr Seksakol said he has clarified the matter with Gen Prayut, who told him not to make such jokes in the future. Ms Jureeporn said she had put the call with Mr Seksakol on speaker, which allowed another person to record their conversation.

Following the release of the audio clip, Thirajchai Phanthumat, Mover Forward Party list-MP and spokesman of the House committee on corruption prevention, called on the PM to suspend Mr Seksakol and order an investigation into his conduct.

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