NACC takes Suthep to court in B5bn malfeasance case

NACC takes Suthep to court in B5bn malfeasance case

Suthep Thaugsuban, centre left, while campaigning for votes for the Action Coalition for Thailand Party in March 2019. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Suthep Thaugsuban, centre left, while campaigning for votes for the Action Coalition for Thailand Party in March 2019. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to punish coalition supporter and former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban for alleged malfeasance involving a government project to build 396 new police stations costing 5.84 billion baht about a decade ago.

The commission told the court that from June 9, 2009, to April 18, 2013, Mr Suthep and Pol Gen Pateep Tanprasert changed the project's implementation from multiple contracts to only a single contract. Pol Gen Pateep was then acting national police chief.

Mr Suthep was deputy prime minister when the project was approved.

Other defendants in the case were Pol Maj Gen Sajja Kochahiran and Pol Lt Col Suriya Chaengsuwan, who were members of a bids verification committee for the project, and PCC Development and Construction Co, which won the contract, and Wissanu Wisetsing, an executive of the company.

According to the NACC, Mr Wissanu tendered contract bids that were unusually low and the verification committee failed to examine the unusual prices. Instead, they used the quotations in seeking approval for awarding the job to PCC Development and Construction Co, which later failed to complete the construction and caused damage to the Royal Thai Police.

NACC asked the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to punish Mr Suthep and Pol Gen Pateep for malfeasance; Pol Maj Gen Sajja and Pol Lt Col Suriya for malfeasance, corrupt procurement and price collusion in a government project; and the company and the executive for supporting the officials' wrongdoing.

The defendants were present at the court on Tuesday and were released on bail of one million baht each. The court set the first hearing at 9.30am on Feb 17 next year.

Mr Suthep is a founder of the Action Coalition for Thailand Party, which is a government coalition partner. He was a deputy prime minister in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government which approved the police station project in 2011.

Many of the police stations were left unfinished when the lone contractor, responsible for hundreds of construction sites, walked off without completing the work.

The scandal made national headlines and has since been raised on numerous occasions.

Mr Suthep led the former People's Democratic Reform Committee's street protests against the Pheu Thai-led administration from late 2013 to early 2014. The military coup led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-Cha, currently the prime minister, followed in May.

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