NACC to discuss bribery probe

NACC to discuss bribery probe

Pol Lt Gen Sathapon Laothong, now a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) says the commission is getting ready to start setting up a framework to investigate the Rolls-Royce bribery case. (File photo)
Pol Lt Gen Sathapon Laothong, now a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) says the commission is getting ready to start setting up a framework to investigate the Rolls-Royce bribery case. (File photo)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) plans this week to discuss the scope of an investigation into the alleged bribes paid to 26 former Thai cabinet ministers and executives of Thai Airways International (THAI) in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.

NACC member Sathapon Laothong, in charge of preparing the investigation, said Sunday that the three NACC members and the NACC secretary-general will discuss the probe framework this week with the sub-committee tasked with finding facts in the alleged bribe payments.

The framework will address issues such as what further evidence will have to be obtained before the NACC can begin summoning the 26 suspects for questioning regarding their alleged roles in the scandal, said Pol Gen Sathapon.

The NACC will focus on the third phase of the bribery scandal that occurred between 2004 and 2005, while THAI had already supplied the NACC with a great deal of information pertaining to the procurement of engines for its aircraft during the period, he said.

He said there might be some more minor information to be sought.

According to a statement of facts prepared in a British court, the period of the alleged bribes dates from 1991 to 2005 and involves payments totalling about US$36.38 million (1.28 billion baht) to "regional intermediaries".

Some of the money was for "agents of the state of Thailand and employees of Thai Airways", according to the document.

However, as the statute of limitations for the probes into the first two rounds of the alleged bribe payments has already expired, the NACC could at this point only investigate the third period involving an aircraft engine purchase contract signed and implemented between April 1, 2004 and Feb 28, 2005, said Pol Gen Sathapon.

The third phase of the alleged bribery took place during the first Thaksin Shinawatra administration, he said.

Citing Rolls Royce's statements given to the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO), he said Rolls-Royce had admitted to paying about 254 million baht to individuals to help it secure an agreement by the Thai government at that time to purchase Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines for six Boeing 777 aircraft and Trent 500 engines for seven Airbus A340 aircraft.

At the time of the third round of bribe payments in the scandal, THAI executives in power included former THAI president Kanok Abhiradee and former THAI board chairman Thanong Bidaya, as well as former deputy transport minister Vichet Kasemthongsri who oversaw THAI and ex-transport minister Suriya Juengrungruangkit, said Pol Gen Sathapon.


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