Corruption cover-ups again and again

Rolls Royce has a motto: “At Rolls-Royce we design, develop, manufacture and service integrated power systems for use in the air, on land and at sea.”

Tarnished somewhat by recent scandals, but we thought it could be of use for Thailand’s heavily tarnished military junta: “At the junta we design, develop, manufacture and service corruption systems and alibis for use by the great, the good and the military brass.”

PPT has posted on the Rolls Royce admissions of quite large corrupt payments to officials of Thai Airways and state officials over a considerable period of time.

The admissions are clear and Rolls Royce has paid a price for its corrupt activities. In the junta’s Thailand, however, it seems that nothing will be done.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Sansern Poljeak has declared that “a lack of unity among state agencies, and the death penalty on corruption cases, are hindering its efforts at getting in-depth information on the Rolls-Royce bribery case from foreign agencies.”

This is horse manure. The death penalty is a red herring. All the Thai state needs to do is guarantee that the penalty won’t be used.

On “confusion,” the NACC claims the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office are dummies. He says they “may be confused as to which state agencies in Thailand are directly responsible for handling bribery cases.” In fact, this could appear much more like a device for a cover-up.

As a Thai bureaucrat he thinks all bureaucrats are the same: “The foreign agencies may not dare provide information and they may have to seek permission from their superiors, which could make procedures more complicated…”.

It is clear that he’s making this up. He has no idea what the “foreign agencies” will actually do. This is partly because his agency is isolated and politicized. It is also firmly under the military junta’s boot. If The Dictator wanted something done, the NACC would do it.

But Sansern  is right on one thing. Confusion is created when the “NACC, the Office of the Auditor-General, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Thai Airways International Plc and various other agencies have all formed their own teams to seek more information from overseas.” It is also great for the beneficiaries of corruption because many agencies usually means nothing happens, apart from the cover-up.

In a later report, the NACC appears to have capitulated and rolled over to have its tummy rubbed.

It has “advised Thai Airways International (THAI) to pursue civil lawsuits for damage caused by those involved in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” No effort will be made to look at the “first two periods involving the scandal” because “the 20-year statute of limitations for bribery cases that took place … has now expired.”

One the corruption for the “third period between 2004-2005 … THAI can still pursue civil action against those involved during this period…”.

Sansern, who a few hours earlier was worried about multiple agencies being involved in the (non)investigation, suggested that the “national carrier can also petition the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to examine the money trails of those involved and freeze their assets.”

Sansern then explained the cover-up. He declared that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha did not need “to exercise his special power under Section 44 of the interim charter to extend the statute of limitations on those expired bribery cases, as this would cast the country in a negative light.”

It might also expose the high and mighty. All governments from the military regime of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and Anand Punyarachun to Thaksin Shinawatra are potentially involved as are dozens of high and mighty royalists, generals, air chief marshals and, perhaps, even the current king, who was provided a position with the airline.

Sansern then “revealed” that the “NACC fact-finding panel can identify who was the transport minister, the deputy transport minister, and THAI officials at the time of the bribery scandal that took place in the third period, though the panel still cannot establish any connection between them and the bribery.”

Jeez, they did an online search using Wikipedia and downloaded Thai Airways annual reports. Wow! Such diligence is, well, pathetic.

But wait! “The NACC panel will have to wait for more information from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before taking further action…”. Have they even asked? What did they ask for? How did they ask? Or is this yet another red herring that will dissolve into the swamp of corruption (non)investigations?

Oh, wait! Sansern said the “NACC held a teleconference meeting with the SFO on Thursday to discuss the matter.” With who? Is that “official”? Well, no. The “SFO had asked the NACC for a formal written confirmation that the NACC is the main agency responsible for handling the bribery cases.”

And there’s more: Sansern said “the questions the NACC will ask the SFO will cover who received the bribes, when and how.” Get out! Really! Wow. These guys are sub-professionals.

The cover-up is proceeding.

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