WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Ex-labour minister slaps DSI officials with lawsuit over kickback allegations

Ex-labour minister slaps DSI officials with lawsuit over kickback allegations

Former labour minister Suchart Chomklin filed a lawsuit against three top officials at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for allegedly abusing their authority.

In the suit, Suchart claims he was harassed by the officials in relation to an accusation of him taking kickbacks from Thai workers in Finland.

The former lawmaker personally visited the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Wednesday morning to file a lawsuit against an ex-DSI chief, an acting DSI chief and the chief of DSI’s human trafficking litigation division.

Suchart held the Labour portfolio in the last government under General Prayut Chan-o-cha and is now a coalition MP under the banner of the United Thai Nation Party.

In the lawsuit, Suchart accused the former DSI chief and two other DSI officials of abusing their authority to harass him at a press conference on January 10.

On that day, the DSI announced that it had taken legal action against two former labour ministers and two Labour Ministry officials for alleged abuse of authority and violation of Articles 149 and 157 of the Criminal Code. The allegations were related to the export of 12,000 Thai workers to work as fruit pickers in Finland from 2020 to 2022.

Without mentioning names, the DSI alleged that the four were suspected of taking 3,000 baht each from the workers as kickbacks during the period.

On January 12, Suchart issued a challenge, demanding that the DSI come up with documentary proof to back the allegations.

Suchart told reporters on Wednesday before filing the lawsuit that he would charge the three DSI officials with committing nonfeasance in violation of Article 157.

He said the three would also be accused of harassing others as state officials and violating Article 200 of the Criminal Code. They will also be charged with violating seven other articles, Suchart added.

Suchart said that though the DSI did not name any suspects, it was clear that he was being fingered as he was the labour minister during the period indicated by the DSI. Hence, he said, DSI’s announcement on January 10 severely damaged his and his family’s reputation.

The former minister claims this announcement was a form of political persecution because the DSI actually submitted the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission in October last year, but only made the announcement this month.

He added that the DSI never gave him a chance to clarify himself through testimony, even though he held such a high position in government.

Suchart said while he was labour minister, he received complaints against a private placement company demanding kickbacks from Thai workers seeking jobs in Finland.

He said he had set up a panel to investigate, but did not find grounds to believe the complaints.

“If I was involved, why would I have set up the panel?” Suchart asked.

He added that he would like to remind Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who oversees the DSI, to ensure that the agency treats people fairly. After submitting the lawsuit, Suchart met reporters outside and told them that the court would check the case’s validity on February 6 before putting it through trial.