Mayor, public works director charged with demanding bribes
published : 3 May 2023 at 17:30
writer: Wassayos Ngamkham
The mayor of Khlong Luang municipality in Pathum Thai and the director of the municipal public works division have been charged with collusion in demanding and receiving bribes.
Police from the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) and officials from the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission apprehended Sathit Chamchalaem, 50, director of the Public Works Division, at the municipal office in Khlong Luang district on Wednesday.
Mr Sathit was arrested while allegedly accepting bribe money. He was charged with colluding in receiving bribes and with malfeasance in office, said CCD commander Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, who led the raid.
Ekkapot Panyaem, 53, mayor of the municipality, was not present. He reported to police later and was read the charges.
The arrests followed a complaint from a man who contacted the municipality for permission for a land fill. The fee was normally 500 baht, but the mayor allegedly demanded 50 baht per cubic metre for the 60,000 cubic metres of soil to be used in the fill, or 3 million baht in total, Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat said.
The man feared there would be repercussions if he refused to pay the bribe. He handed over 500,000 baht to Mr Sathit as an advance, asking to pay the rest in instalments.
After receiving the complaint, CCD police began an investigation that pointed to both the mayor and the public works director being corrupt. The two men allegedly demanded the victim pay another 500,000 baht to them at the municipal office on Wednesday. Investigators obtained a court warrant to arrest them, Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat said.
The director was taken into custody while receiving the money. The arresting officers also seized a pistol from him. During questioning, Mr Sathit denied all charges.
The officers searched the municipal office, but the mayor was not there. Mr Ekkapot was said to have gone to the hospital, where his wife was due to give birth. He was contacted.
Around 3.30pm, Mr Ekkapot arrived at the municipal office to meet Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiart and hear charges of colluding in taking bribes and malfeasance in office.