The Bangkok Post today is a broadsheet of corruption and potential corruption. The stories range from a person identified as a senior official stealing cheap hotel art work in Japan to yet another admission of bribe-commissions in Thailand.
We can only think that the official forgot which country he was in. In Thailand, the great and powerful can do what they like. However, the latest story on a U.S. firm, General Cable Corporation, that has entered another agreement to avoid prosecution over commissions paid, continues to define business practice in Thailand.
General Cable “has agreed to pay $82.3 million to halt the U.S. government’s investigation into inappropriate payments to government officials in Egypt, Angola, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Thailand.” The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that:
… [b]etween 2002 and 2013, General Cable subsidiaries paid approximately $13 million to third-party agents and distributors, a portion of which was used to make unlawful payments to obtain business, ultimately netting the company approximately $51 million in profits.
In Thailand, this scandal “involves the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and TOT Plc.”
In the usual way, the agencies have “set up a panel to look into the case.” In the Rolls Royce cases, everyone is running for cover and the agencies who are investigating themselves reckon that they may not be able to get names and details to allow a result to “investigations.”
We feel a cover being thrown over the allegations. And no one has said much about how the payments began under the military regime led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon and recognized great and good former unelected premier Anand Punyarachun. The good people always seem to have a cover of teflon.
Another story is about the military junta’s decision to buy submarines from the Chinese. Billions of baht. Who is getting the commissions on this deal? As we’ve said many times, commissions is normal, so we can’t help but wonder.
Yet another story is about a whiffy deal by the military junta to extend a “contract to manage a landmark convention centre [Queen Sirikit National Convention Center] in Bangkok by another 25 years instead of calling a new bid has drawn criticism it favoured a liquor tycoon.” The junta agreed to a state contract “with N.C.C. Management & Development Co (NCC), a company under the business empire of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.”
The original contract was handed out in 1991, expired last year, and is now handed over for another 25 years. It is stated that “the renewal of the contract without calling a bid was stipulated in the previous contract.” Hmm, 1991. General Suchinda again or Anand?
Of course, Charoen is not only one of Thailand’s richest and its biggest landowner, but also a great royalist and with great links with the military. As a big donor to the palace, he’s surely great and good. But this quote seems to say it all:
Sumet Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the failure to call a bid blocked the chance for other companies to compete with NCC and for the government to maximise its income from the property.
“The estimated return of 100 million baht a year or less than 10 million per month on average is too low, given the prime location of the QSNCC…”.