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Anti-graft centre not probing case of PM’s nephew


JUSTICE MINISTER General Paiboon Koomchaya has kept the Anti-Corruption Operation Centre (ACOC) away from an ongoing scandal concerning Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s nephew over alleged irregularities in construction contracts awarded by the Army.

The Paiboon-led ACOC has so far not received any complaints or queries from any individual or agency in relation to these contracts worth a combined Bt155 million. 
However, the Auditor-General and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) have investigated the allegations and learned that Prathompol Chan-o-cha had set up his company’s office inside the compound of the Third-Region Army.
“All investigating agencies work independently. I can’t meddle in their affairs. I also don’t want the ACOC to become a meddling centre,” the minister said. 
According to the ACOC’s official website, the centre is mandated to facilitate, regulate, inspect and evaluate anti-graft performances of governmental officials and related agencies. It is also authorised to appoint, order or suspend officials whose actions are against the law, the Cabinet’s resolutions or PM’s orders.
Established under the PM’s order in 2014, the ACOC works under the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which subsequently comes under the Justice Ministry. 
It consists of six officials under the Justice Ministry, one from the Treasury, one from the Foreign Ministry, five from independent agencies, three from PM-supervised agencies, one from the Army, and two from anti-corruption foundations.
One of its underling foundations, the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT), however, issued a statement urging Prayut to ensure that any irregularities related to a family of his younger brother General Preecha Chan-o-cha must be investigated quickly, freely and transparently.
Earlier, Isra News Agency reported that Prathompol’s company, which is located in the Third Region Army in Phitsanulok, won at least 11 state construction projects.
Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam noted yesterday that a civil servant’s residence can be lawfully registered as a company. However, he refused to say whether such an action is appropriate. 
Pongphan, Preecha’s wife, also stirred controversy when photographs of her inappropriate activities were circulated on the Net, including those of her opening a dyke named after her and her riding an Air Force plane to the dyke-opening ceremony. 
In a related development, Paiboon said that he ordered PACC secretary-general Prayong Preeyachit to gather details of over 850 cases related to the rice-pledging scheme launched by former PM Yingluck Shinawatra government.
His order follows the Cabinet’s resolutions that the ACOC will be responsible for more than 850 cases related to the rice-pledging scheme.
The PACC will discuss the case with the Treasury and the Commerce Ministry and then set up a war room to work on the case, he said. 
Members of the previous government’s National Rice Policy Committee may also face investigation over alleged wrongdoing by the NACC, Wissanu said. 

Published : September 28, 2016

By : THE NATION