Wednesday, November 20, 2019

NACC to charge Suthep of collusion over police-station project

Aug 06. 2019
Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (right) and former acting National Police chief Pol General Prateep Tanprasert (left) are facing charges over the alleged collusion in relation to the construction of 396 new police stations.
Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (right) and former acting National Police chief Pol General Prateep Tanprasert (left) are facing charges over the alleged collusion in relation to the construction of 396 new police stations.
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By The Nation

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The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Tuesday resolved to officially charge former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban for alleged collusion in relation to the construction of 396 new police stations nationwide, and will pass the case on to the Office of the Attorney General to indict the veteran politician for a criminal offence.

The NACC unanimously resolved that both Suthep and former acting National Police chief Pol General Prateep Tanprasert had committed a criminal offence by abusing their powers. Prateep will also be held accountable for a serious breach of discipline. 

As for the committee that organised the bid for the project, NACC resolved that Pol Maj-General Sajja Khotchahiran and Pol Lt-Colonel Suriya Jaengsuwan had violated the Anti-Collusion Act, wrongfully exercised their functions and conducted serious disciplinary breaches, while three police officers of colonel rank will be held accountable for non-severe disciplinary breaches. 

As for the project’s contractor, PCC Development and Construction Co, the NACC resolved that two executives had violated the anti-collusion law and related offences, though the commission dismissed allegations against then-PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, then-police chief Pol General Priewpan Damapong, then-police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaw, then-logistics commissioner Pol Lt-General Teerayuth Kittiwat and then-logistics commissioner Pol Lt-General Suporn Phanseu.

This resolution is in line with the conclusion drawn last month by an NACC sub-committee to charge Suthep, Prateep and members of the police committee in charge of approving the project for bidding collusion.

The project aimed to build 396 new police stations nationwide, but the project winner later abandoned the project, causing many police officers to not have any premises to work from. The Royal Thai Police cancelled the project in April 2013 and filed a lawsuit against PCC Development and Construction Co demanding Bt1.728 billion in compensation. The opposition then attacked Suthep over the scandal, which made the headlines and prompted the NACC to launch an investigation. 

The NACC probe found that Suthep had approved the project put forward by Prateep without consulting the Cabinet on November 18, 2009. This move cancelled an earlier Cabinet-approved method of granting multiple contracts based on region, and shifted it to the method of merging regional contracts into one national project. This unauthorised approval by Suthep led to the project being abandoned half way, which is why he is facing collusion charges. 

Suthep has testified to the NACC sub-panel thrice protesting his innocence all along.

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