Still more corruption cases

After the recent reports – all from foreign jurisdictions – of corruption, it seems someone had the bright idea of searching the websites for more cases of corrupt practices in Thailand. Hey presto! There’s another one.

A report in The Nation refers to the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) declaring that its unusually wealthy cohort of generals, admirals, marshals and junta flunkies “will investigate fresh bribery allegations concerning the CCTV camera installation project at Parliament House over 10 years ago.”

NLA Vice President and junta posterior polisher Surachai Liangboonlertchai states that these “new” allegations “were exposed by the United States Justice Department…”.

Surachai declared that “he had instructed the committee that oversaw the [NLA] compound to ask relevant staff to explain what happened regarding the project…”. Yet another body doing yet another corruption investigation.

Surachai says the investigation is “needed to help ensure accountability and transparency.” We suppose that is a breakthrough, for the NLA hasn’t been accountable or transparent under the junta.

Despite the bribe givers having admited their crime in the USA, the NLA is only going to “look into the expenditures during that period to see if there were any irregularities.” Only if they find irregularities will “an official fact-finding committee … be set up to pursue the case.” Ho hum.

The Nation report does not list the U.S. company involved. In fact, as far as PPT can tell, it is a company named Tyco International Ltd  and the SEC charged it with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on 24 September 2012. Yes, that’s more than four years ago.

Tyco admitted that is agents and affiliates paid bribes in several countries. Of Thailand, the SEC says:

In Thailand, Tyco’s subsidiary had a contract to install a CCTV system in the Thai Parliament House in 2006, and paid more than $50,000 to a Thai entity that acted as a consultant. The invoice for the payment refers to “renovation work,” but Tyco is unable to ascertain what, if any, work was actually done.

Perhaps while there at it, the NLA and any other body wanting to “investigate” corruption could look at the SEC site a bit more. There we learn that on 6 August 2010, the SEC “charged two global tobacco companies with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for paying more than $5 million in bribes to government officials in Thailand and other countries to illicitly obtain tobacco sales contracts.” THe pay-offs in Thailand were to the state’s Thailand Tobacco Monopoly.

Back in early 2011, lawyer David Lyman wrote about corruption in Thailand and listed this as one of the “recent” cases. The list bears repeating (see below) as Lyman refers to “Grand Corruption” as the “massive upfront contributions and kickbacks from suppliers and contractors in state-funded infrastructure and procurement projects, which monies find their way to senior civil and military officials and political figures and their advisors.”

As a good yellow-hued member of the privileged elite, he mentions the alleged corruption at the international airport, which was all put down to Thaksin Shinawatra. He then lists “recent examples” of Grand Corruption:

  1. The hand-held bomb detectors which even the British government said were useless, as did a Thai testing facility, which the Army and Police swore were effective and cost between US$28,000 and US$37,500 each (totaling US$1.5 million) but which proved to be worthless, “less effective than flipping a coin”.
  2. The Army’s new US$9.7 million helium-filled blimp which has not yet met specs—another boondoggle.
  3. The ten-year lease of 4,000 new buses for the city of Bangkok to replace its aging fleet, at a cost of US$2.05 billion (about US$508,000 per bus).
  4. A high-speed rail line from Kunming in southern China through Laos and down the length of Thailand into northern Malaysia. The scheme, priced at US$11 billion and change, is reputed to be the new all-you-can-eat-buffet for the politicos and other influential persons and groups with their wallets out.
  5. In a recent example from August 2010, U.S.-based tobacco sellers paying off officials of the Thai Tobacco Monopoly to the tune of US$1.9 million to buy tobacco from their sources.
  6. The September 2010 revelations that US$1.6 million in disaster relief funds, intended to aid flood victims, have been diverted to officials in many provinces across the country.

As far as we can recall, 1 and 2 have been unmentionable under the junta. Nothing happened. Buses (3) remain a front page issue, with references to corruption. No. 4 has been revived big-time under the junta and the junta is dealing with relief operations in the south (like 6). No. 5 is the case dealt with by the SEC in 2010.

What can we say? It is business as usual.


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