Former Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra has been implicated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) over alleged irregularities in contract extensions to operate the Green Line mass-transit routes a decade ago.
Also named is Keeree Kanjanapas, chairman of BTS Group Holdings Plc, the SET-listed parent company of the skytrain operator Bangkok Mass Transit System Co (BTSC), according to a source at the anti-graft agency.
The NACC agreed at a meeting on March 10 to press charges against a total of 11 people, as well as BTSC and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the source said.
The 13 named individuals and entities face charges of malpractice stemming from the contract signed in May 2012 between Krungthep Thanakom (KT), the investment arm of the BMA, and BTSC.
In the contract worth 190 billion baht, KT hired BTSC to operate the Green Line train services and carry out maintenance.
The source said the NACC found the hiring of the contractor was not in compliance with the law governing public-private joint investments. As well, the bid allegedly favoured BTSC, a breach of the law pertaining to bidding for state projects.
The other nine individuals named by the NACC, apart from MR Sukhumbhand and Mr Keeree, are: Theerachon Manomaipiboon, a former deputy governor of Bangkok; Prapanpong Vejjajiva, former chairman of KT; Amorn Kitkawengkul, a KT executive; Chroenrat Chutikan, a former city clerk; Ninnart Chalitanont, a former deputy city clerk; Jumpol Sampaopol and Thana Wichaisarn, each a former director-general of the BMA Traffic and Transport Department (TTD); Krit Kiatpanachart, head of the BMA Transport Division; and Surapong Laoha-anya, a BTS executive.
BTSC was hired to operate the Green Line extension routes; the On Nut-Bearing section; Saphan Taksin-Wong Wian Yai section; Mor Chit-On Nut and National Stadium-Saphan Taksin sections.
According to the source, the contracts to operate the sections in question were originally due to expire in 2029. However, KT and BTSC signed a deal to extend the contract for another 13 years, with operations of the Green Line sections by the company all ending at the same time in 2042.
MR Sukhumbhand was removed from office in October 2016 on the order of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, after being accused of misspending state funds. He was replaced by Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang.
The BMA currently owes BTSC 40 billion baht to BTSC for operating and related expenses on the Green Line extensions. The Central Administrative Court last September ordered the BMA to pay part of that sum, but it is not clear how the dispute will ultimately be resolved.
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