NACC clears Rajabhakti Park case

NACC clears Rajabhakti Park case

The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday unanimously agreed that there was no graft in the Rajabhakti Park project in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The resolution carried by nine votes to nil came after a fact-finding committee in charge of investigating alleged corruption in the one-billion-baht project submitted a report to the NACC’s meeting on Tuesday, NACC president Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit said on Wednesday. 

Pol Gen Watcharapol said the commission agreed unanimously that all procedures carried out under the project had met regulatory requirements following a thorough examination of evidence and witnesses. 

The Royal Thai Army and Defence Ministry had been highly cooperative in the probe.  

The probe followed a petition filed by political activist and graft-fighter Veera Somkwamkid late last year calling for an investigation into state officials involved in the construction of Rajabhakti Park which features giant statues of seven former kings.

"The fact-finding has been done at the request of the petitioner and has been completed,” Pol Gen Watcharapol said. “The commissioners have found no irregularities in the implementation of the project and will inform the petitioner of the decision.”

In his complaint, Mr Veera, the former secretary-general of the People’s Network Against Corruption, accused former army chief Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, the chairman of the now-defunct Rajabhakti Park Foundation, and former defence permanent secretary Sirichai Distakul of malfeasance in office in connection with the park’s construction.

His accusation is largely based on press reports about the spending of state funds on the project and the 10% commission fees allegedly demanded by an amulet trader. Among Mr Veera’s concerns is the absence of a proper bid auction to hire contractors to build the park’s fence and to lay the foundations for the giant statues of the seven former kings. 

Mr Veera on Wednesday said his petition lodged with the NACC focused on the procurement in the project using the special method instead of the standard 1992 procurement regulations. 

He will further comment on the matter after receiving the NACC’s written clarification in the case.

An earlier probe by the army into the accusations ended with an “all-clear”, but public concerns continued to grow, prompting the Ministry of Defence to start another investigation. 

The ministry's fact-finding committee concluded in December that funding for the park's construction strictly complied with legal regulations. 

In February, the Office of the Auditor-General cleared an amulet trader at the centre of the park controversy of an allegation that he demanded kickbacks from foundries contracted to cast the statues of the former kings. 

A month later the Anti-Money Laundering Office also concluded there were no irregularities in the project.

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