Ruling party MP to face graft charges

Ruling party MP to face graft charges

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) has decided to indict Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP, Wirach Ratana­sate, over a graft-tainted deal to construct futsal courts at schools in the Northeast, a source said on Friday.

The decision was announced after a meeting of a joint working panel between the OAG and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

The OAG is expected to complete drafting its charges within 60 days and lodge it with the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

In August last year, the NACC said it found evidence that Mr Wirach colluded with others in siphoning off money disbursed from the MPs' fund to the futsal court project.

The joint working panel reportedly agreed with the NACC's finding and recommended that Mr Wirach be indicted.

The alleged graft took place in 2012 under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, when Mr Wirach was serving as a Pheu Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima.

In the NACC's case report, Mr Wirach and the others were accused of engaging in policy-oriented corruption by unlawfully interfering in budget matters and diverting funds meant for school repairs to the construction of futsal courts.

Under the 2007 charter, which was in effect in 2012, MPs and senators were prohibited from interfering in state budget management in a way that benefited them directly or indirectly.

The funds were allegedly siphoned from the 2012 fiscal budget even though many schools did not request them in the first place.

Moreover, after their construction the futsal courts were found to be substandard and abandoned.

Mr Wirach yesterday denied the allegation, saying he never interfered in budgetary affairs and would soon address the public about the futsal project scandal.

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