National park chief arrested for allegedly demanding bribes, misappropriation
The chief of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department was arrested by anti-corruption police on Tuesday morning for allegedly demanding bribes from subordinates and siphoning off funds meant for parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
Police from the Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) arrested Rutchada Suriyakul na Ayutthaya at his office at the department’s head office in Bangkok's Chatuchak district.
Police reportedly found five million cash at Rutchada’s office, which was seized after he failed to explain its source.
The ACD police raided Rutchada’s office after Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, filed a complaint with the ACD, accusing the department chief of demanding bribes from his subordinates.
Chaiwat alleged that Rutchada demanded each of his senior subordinates to somehow raise an amount of 500,000 for him, or else they would be transferred to remote areas.
Rutchada also allegedly demanded that chiefs of national park office and wildlife sanctuaries nationwide deduct 18.5 per cent from their annual budget for operations and send the money back to the department chief.
Chaiwat alleged that forest fire protection units were ordered by Rutchada to deduct 30% from their operation budgets and send the money back to him.
ACD commander Pol Maj-General Charoonkiart Parnkaew said on Tuesday that his division had conducted a preliminary probe and found the allegations credible, leading to the arrest on Tuesday morning.
Rutchada was charged with demanding benefits for himself in exchange for carrying out or not carrying out his duty and with malfeasance as a state official.
Rutchada was taken to the ACD head office for legal action.