DNP chief faces additional probe into misconduct
Under-fire Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) chief Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya now faces a disciplinary probe into his alleged misconduct.
Mr Rutchada was arrested at his office in Chatuchak district on Dec 27 on charges of demanding or taking bribes from subordinates and malfeasance by a team of Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) police led by its chief, Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said on Thursday that results from the ministry's committee investigating the bribery case have been forwarded to the permanent secretary with a recommendation to form a panel to investigate Mr Rutchada over his alleged misconduct.
Another part of the investigation concerning the suspected involvement of a number of other office chiefs in the department is expected to take more time, said the minister.
A source at the ministry said Jatuporn Buruspat, the permanent secretary, had signed an order to set up the panel to find out whether Mr Rutchada had committed serious disciplinary misconduct as suggested by the committee in its report on the probe findings.
When questioned by the panel, Mr Rutchada denied any wrongdoing, refused to provide it with any information about bribes he allegedly received and said he would provide a written explanation later, said the source.
Mr Jatuporn's deputy Thalerngsak Petchsuwan was appointed chairman of the committee.
Mr Thalerngsak said on Thursday the committee would first decide on what punishment to impose on Mr Rutchada if he was found guilty.
He said he will urge his committee to conduct a swift probe.
Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat said two key witnesses in the case were questioned on Wednesday and provided useful information.
They were Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi, and an unnamed official at the DNP, he said.
Mr Chaiwat filed the complaint with the ACD against Mr Rutchada, accusing him of abusing his authority in transferring officials who refused to pay him 500,000 baht to positions far from their home provinces.
As for those whose names were on envelopes containing cash seized in Mr Rutchada's office, they will be quizzed by the ACD today, said Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat.
- Department of National Parks