Amulet trader cleared of wrongdoing by OAG
The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) has cleared an amulet trader of allegations he demanded kickbacks from foundries hired to cast the statues of seven Thai kings at Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The OAG based its conclusion on accounts from the amulet trader who testified about his alleged wrongdoing last month as well as its check on accounts belonging to the five foundries and the suspect's company, which are in the clear.
The trader, named Sian U, admitted he received a total of 20 million baht from the foundries, but the money was paid for his role as their adviser, coordinator, work supervisor and problem solver, and were called "management fees," not kickbacks, Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas said yesterday.
According to the OAG investigation, Sian U later decided to return the money to the foundries because he preferred to help build the park as a volunteer. However, the foundries did not want the money back, so Sian U donated it to the Rajabhakti Park project.
The OAG's inspection of the financial transactions of the foundries and Sian U's Siam Pura Co also found no irregularities, Mr Pisit said.
"Sian U is not a rogue who likes to demand money from people. Siam Pura also has a good record in casting work," he said. This is what his agency found, "but it depends on society to decide," he added.
The one-billion-baht park made headlines when the scandal, with the amulet trader at its centre, flared and Khachachart Boondee, a former colonel and close aide to Deputy Defence Minister Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, was implicated in the alleged corruption.
Though the OAG has wrapped up its probe, the government is still waiting for findings from the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.