By Piyanuch Tamnukasetchai,
Police and BMA staff under scrutiny after Nataree raided on human trafficking claim
THE Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is looking into the name initials in the Nataree Entertainment massage parlour’s logbooks to identify policemen and officials who collected kickbacks, PACC secretary-general Prayong Preeyajit said yesterday. The massage parlour is facing investigations over allegations of human trafficking as it was found to have allowed the prostitution of girls under the age of 18.
The Department of Provincial Administration led a raid of the parlour located in the Ratchadapisek area on Tuesday and rescued 121 sex workers. Officials also arrested five employees and confiscated logbooks detailing payments made to police and officials.
Prayong said the PACC had sent officials to observe the raid and will check on the establishment’s operations to see if related police and officials had neglected their duties to take action against the parlour. He said his agency was checking the facts and initials in the logbooks to identify corrupt officials.
He added that public scrutiny has already prompted several agencies to check if their subordinates had taken bribes.
A source at the Justice Ministry revealed that the logbooks could possibly lead to officials facing disciplinary punishment, although it may be difficult to investigate as the kickback recipients were only referred to by their initials or their agencies, and so far there are no witnesses to incriminate the officials.
The source has called on the agency supervisors to launch fact-finding investigations, saying that inaction could lead to charges of malfeasance. The agency under the spotlight the most is the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which has the authority to issue building licences as modifications and noise disturbances cannot happen without local officials’ knowledge.
Meanwhile, BMA’s Din Daeng district office director Saisri Hiratprasertwut said yesterday that she has assigned a fact-finding committee to look into the case. As the logbooks only identify “BMA” as an alleged kickback recipient, it could be any department, not just the Din Daeng office, she said, adding that if any official is found to be involved in the wrongdoing, he or she would face legal action according to the law.
Separately, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said yesterday that the Metropolitan Police have not yet released the results of the fact-finding probe related to the kickbacks, as it would take some time to investigate and jumping to a conclusion too quickly could lead to mistakes.
As for allegations about a human-trafficking gang supplying underage migrant girls to the parlour, police spokesman Pol General Dechnarong Sutticharnbancha said the investigation was ongoing and nothing could be confirmed without clear evidence. He also said the Royal Thai Police did not permit staff to collect benefits from businesses.
Police discovered to have accepted payments will face serious disciplinary action and punishment based on the criminal code, Dechnarong said.