DSI under fire as Chuvit alleges high-level bribery
published : 18 Jan 2023 at 09:02
newspaper section: News
The raid on the unlicensed Jingling pub in Yannawa district on the night of Oct 26 that found more than 200 clients, mostly of Chinese origin, has now snowballed into allegations of attempts by a soldier, police and officials from the Department of Special Investigation(DSI) demanding bribes from a further 11 Chinese who escaped the raid.
The alleged bribery was revealed by former politician and massage parlour tycoon Chuvit Kamolvisit who posted on his Facebook page on Sunday that a former consul-general's house was being used to shelter the illegal Chinese nationals and serving as a fake visa and passport factory.
During a search of the house, police arrested all 11 runaway Chinese, one of whom was already on Interpol's Red Notice list, and found 8 million baht in cash.
The group is alleged to have paid 5.5 million in bribe money to escape arrest at the Jinling pub complex, which catered to Chinese tourists, on Charoen Rat Road in Bangkok on Oct 26 last year.
Mr Chuvit also claimed that the officers had demanded an additional 4 million baht, which was to be picked up from a petrol station.
In the post, Mr Chuvit targeted the DSI and 191 Police, saying it was time for the DSI chief to clean house and not let certain officials cause damage to the agency.
On Monday, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy national police chief, who investigated the matter, said five DSI officials, nine policemen, including two officers from the Patrol and Special Operation Division, a soldier and a Chinese-born translator were involved in the extortion and bribery.
Arrest warrants were also issued against the DSI officials said to have led discussions between all present in which they are claimed to have advocated accepting the cash during a search of the home of a former Republic of Nauru consul-general in Bangkok last month, Pol Gen Surachate said.
He said, however, the 14 officers had denied the bribery and malfeasance charges, while the Chinese interpreter confessed to being involved in the alleged 4 million baht bribery bid.
The soldier and the Chinese interpreter face charges of encouraging officials to take a bribe and committing misconduct to help offenders escape legal proceedings, according to the deputy national police chief.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Teerapong Pattamasing Na Ayutthaya, director general of civil affairs and spokesman for the Royal Thai Armed Forces Command, said on Tuesday an armed forces fact-finding panel is looking into whether there was any army involvement in the affair.
The accused soldier was attached to the Armed Forces Security Centre, the military police, he said.
Gen Chalermpol Srisawat, chief of the defence forces, had been briefed and had ordered the soldier's superiors to urgently set up a fact-finding committee into his activities and report back to him, Lt Gen Teerapong said.
DSI chief Traiyarit Temahiwong on Tuesday said the department had also set up a panel to look into what could amount to serious disciplinary violations by its officials.
The DSI had not ordered a search of the former consul-general's premises that day as that can legally only be instigated by the police, he said.
As he understood it, the Patrol and Special Operations Division, better known as 191 Police, had sought a search warrant for the house, and the accused DSI officials had supported them in their task, the DSI chief said.
He said reports that his right-hand man at the DSI coordinated with 191 Police in organising the raid were incorrect. The staff member was not involved.
Mr Chuvit on Monday posted a video clip on his Facebook showing cars carrying police and DSI officers pull up to the house said to be the residence of the former Nauru consul-general on Dec 22 for the raid, during which the bribe was said to have been discussed.