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Prasert puts accusation down to personal conflict

May 20. 2015
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ONE OF the 45 state officials suspended for alleged corrupt practices proclaimed his innocence yesterday.
Prasert Apipunya, formerly a member of the committee inspecting and evaluating the performance of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Com-mission (NBTC), held a press conference at the NBTC headquarters to attack the commission.
He was removed from his post last week under the interim charter’s Article 44.
The 45 suspended officials and local administrators are being investigated by four agencies: the National Anti-Corruption Com-mission (NACC), Office of the Auditor-General and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commis-sion.
Prasert said he would clarify his innocence in writing to the auditor-general and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
He was accused by the auditor-general of issuing fake documents to approve annual bonuses for two NBTC staff members when he was deputy secretary-general of the NBTC in 2010. He said yesterday the case was still being investigated by the NBTC and that he did not create any fake documents.
“I believe this case stems from a personal conflict with Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, since we competed for the secretary-general’s post three years ago,” Prasert said. 
Takorn is now secretary-general of the NBTC, while Prasert was appointed to a committee tasked with inspecting and evaluating the NBTC’s performance. Prasert was sacked from the committee by government order on May 15.
He said he does not blame the government for ordering his removal, but was concerned that the NBTC provided wrong information about him. 
Prasert also attacked Takorn for increasing the scholarship fund, which Takorn awarded to his own daughter. This was in 2009, when Takorn was acting secretary-general of the NBTC.
His press conference yesterday was held in the same NBTC room that Takorn had used earlier. When the NBTC executive called security guards to ask Prasert to leave the room, the latter refused saying he wanted to submit his clarifications to the NBTC chairman. 
Later, Trairat Viriyasirikul, NBTC’s deputy secretary-general, told the press that it was the OAG that had submitted the case to the NCPO. 
Meanwhile, Justice Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said any government officials who believe their suspension from office is unfair could petition directly with him or the government’s anti-corruption centre. He said he would look at all the petitions. “I fully intend to ensure justice,” he said. 
The government is cracking down on corruption in bureaucracy and local administrative organisations. Dozens of senior officials and local administrators have been transferred after relevant agencies submitted a list of allegedly corrupt officials and administrators to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Paiboon said when any complaint is filed with him or the National Anti-Corruption Coop-eration Committee, which he heads, he asks the agencies to have strong evidence. 
He admitted there were “some inaccuracies” in the list of suspected corrupt officials because they were investigated by agencies not related to their affiliated entities.
However, the minister said he was sure the agencies have good evidence against the accused officials, adding that he had instructed the agencies supplying the list to not do so out of spite.
The four agencies are carefully gathering a new list of allegedly corrupt officials to be submitted to the prime minister for their suspension, Paiboon said. He will meet agency officials soon to make a final decision, he said, adding that the meeting has not been scheduled.
“We are not in a hurry. I asked them to work carefully to ensure accuracy and fairness,” he said.
When asked why only a few military or police officers made it to the list of allegedly corrupt officials, the minister said he had not been instructed to focus on any issue in particular. Those agencies decided themselves on whom to target, he said. 

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