Justice minister defends DSI probe into bribery in labour to Finland

Justice minister defends DSI probe into bribery in labour to Finland

Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong, second left, attends a meeting at Government House. (Photo supplied)
Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong, second left, attends a meeting at Government House. (Photo supplied)

Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong has defended the Department of Special Investigation over its probe into allegations of bribery and human trafficking made against two former cabinet ministers and two high-level officials in the provision of Thai labour to Finland.

He denied there was any persecution in the joint investigation by the DSI and public prosecutors.

Speaking before attending the cabinet’s regular Tuesday meeting, Pol Col Tawee said the case involved alleged offences outside Thailand. The Office of the Attorney-General investigated the case only after Finnish police and the Finnish embassy advised the OAG of charges against those allegedly involved in Finland.

Finnish police had obtained evidence in the case and there was also the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. The OAG then began an investigation, and the DSI joined in the probe, the minister said.

The investigation encompassed the questioning of witnesses and examination of documentary and forensic evidence. The OAG and the DSI shared the same opinion. It was not any individual’s view, the minister said.

Importantly, Finnish investigators had made several visits to Thailand, Pol Col Tawee said, citing an official report. He declined to give further details, saying it could affect the case.

The DSI focused its investigations on evidence and ensuring justice for all sides, the minister said. There was no persecution of any individuals involved in this case.

Former labour minister Suchart Chomklin has strongly denied being paid or in anyway being involved in human trafficking activities in the job placement scheme.

In a statement last week, the DSI said it was pursuing malfeasance charges against two former ministers and two high-level officials at the Labour Ministry, without giving names, over the alleged payment of 36 million baht for approving the sending of Thai workers to Finland.

According to the DSI, a group of politicians, civil servants and civilians demanded that a Thai job broker pay an average of 3,000 baht for each worker sent to harvest wild berries in the Nordic country.

The broker in turn passed the special requirement on to about 12,000 Thai workers provided from 2020 to 2023. It cost the workers about 36 million baht in total, in addition to all the other expenses normally incurred.

Mr Suchart, who started serving as labour minister in August 2020, said he has appointed a team of lawyers to advise him and at this stage, no charges have been pressed against him.

Mr Suchart also said he was being unfairly treated because the allegations against him were made by a woman broker who had no evidence to substantiate them. He claimed the broker faced legal action in Finland and implicated senior officials to secure her release.

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