Former PTTEP execs face charges in Rolls-Royce bribes scandal
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Former PTTEP execs face charges in Rolls-Royce bribes scandal

Case compiled by corruption watchdog dates back to 2004-08

Rigs on the Erawan gas block in the Gulf of Thailand operated by PTT Exploration and Production Plc. (Photo: PTTEP)
Rigs on the Erawan gas block in the Gulf of Thailand operated by PTT Exploration and Production Plc. (Photo: PTTEP)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found grounds to believe that four former executives of PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) colluded to manipulate the bidding for an equipment procurement contract worth almost a billion baht that was awarded to Rolls-Royce and implemented between 2004 and 2008.

The NACC will forward its findings to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), along with a request that it to consider indicting the four former PTTEP executives, NACC secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said on Wednesday.

The NACC now believes Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith, Anucha Sihanatkathakul, Maroot Mrigadat and Phaphadet Worabut colluded to manipulate the bidding to help Rolls-Royce Plc, a company based in the UK, secure the contract to supply PTTEP with two gas turbine compressors for US$24.66 million (996 million baht), Mr Niwatchai said.

Mr Maroot was at the time president of PTTEP and Mr Chitrapongse and Mr Anucha were members of a subcommittee set up by the company to oversee the procurement project, he said.

Chulasing Wasansing, the other member of the subcommittee, died while the NACC was investigating this case.

The other key suspect, Phaophadet Worabut, was formerly deputy manager of PTTEP’s maritime work unit. The NACC found in its investigation that he acted as a go-between, coordinating the alleged payment of bribes.

The NACC will next ask the OAG to consider indicting this suspect too, for alleged bidding price collusion, money laundering and corruption, Mr Niwatchai said.

The NACC inquiry found Mr Phaophadet had received a bribe of about 10 million baht from Rolls Royce Energy Systems Inc through Quantumec (Thailand) Co, he said.

Claimed to be a commission, the bribe was transferred to a bank account held by a person close to Mr Phaophadet, Mr Niwatchai said.

The NACC began investigating the bribery case after information from the United States suggested it was part of a much wider Rolls-Royce fraud scandal, and the activity in Thailand involved PTTEP’s procurement project, he said.

The US Department of Justice in January 2017 entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with Rolls-Royce, which followed an investigation into bribery and corruption in Thailand, Brazil, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Angola.

The PTTEP case involved a US-based Rolls-Royce subsidiary, which was subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act under US law.

Investigations into other instances of corruption by Rolls-Royce from 1989 to 2013 were also carried out by authorities in the United Kingdom and Brazil. The UK investigation uncovered bribes paid to Thai officials involved in the procurement of aircraft engines by Thai Airways International three decades ago.

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