Accused National Parks chief released on B400,000 bail

Accused National Parks chief released on B400,000 bail

Police from the Counter Corruption Division seize money found in envelopes at the office of the head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation during a search on Tuesday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Police from the Counter Corruption Division seize money found in envelopes at the office of the head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation during a search on Tuesday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

The embattled head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, arrested and charged with demanding and receiving bribes, was released on 400,000 baht bail on Tuesday night.

Police planned to summons about 20 senior officials at agencies under the department for questioning. Their names were on envelopes containing money that were seized from the department chief's office safe.

Department director-general Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya was questioned at the Counter Corruption Commission (CCD) head office following his arrest at his office on Tuesday morning.

Mr Rutchada applied for release on bail, offering 400,000 baht cash as surety, after the interrogation.

Police investigators approved his bail request on the grounds he was a senior official with job security, had a permanent residence and posed no flight risk.

CCD commander Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew said on Wednesday that police investigators would summons heads of agencies under the department whose names were on envelopes of cash seized in Mr Rutchada’s office for questioning, as witnesses. Investigators would ask them about the money, Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat said.

A police source said about 20 officials whose names appeared on those envelopes would be summonsed. The seized envelopes contained varying amounts of cash. Some had 1.6 million baht and some contained a five-digit amount. There were 100-baht banknotes inside some envelopes, indicating that the amounts were calculated based on the size of the budget each agency received.

CCD police arrived at the department head office in Chatuchak district of Bangkok on Tuesday morning and took Mr Rutchada away to hear and acknowledge charges of demanding or agreeing to accept bribes or other benefits for his personal gain, abuse of authority and malfeasance in office.

His arrest came after Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi, earlier filed a complaint with CCD police against Mr Rutchada, accusing him of abusing his authority in transferring officials who refused to pay him 500,000 baht to positions away from their home provinces.

Mr Chaiwat also accused the department chief of demanding money from heads of agencies under the department.

Before the arrest, CCD investigators and the National Anti-Corruption Commission planned a sting, with one damaged party asked to hand an envelope containing 98,000 baht to Mr Rutchada at his office at 9.10am on Tuesday. During the search of Mr Rutchada’s office room, another 4.9 million baht cash was found in a safe.  


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