Mekong Utility Watch

Officials, VIPs to be arrested

Bangkok Post
June 7, 2003

Probe finds 1.9 billion baht embezzled on land slated for a 23-billion-baht wastewater treatment project in Klong Dan, Samut Prakan.

Investigators will issue arrest warrants for 10 senior state officials and “important people” for alleged corruption surrounding the 23-billion-baht wastewater treatment project in Klong Dan, Samut Prakan.

“I am confident police can issue the warrants by the end of this month,” said Pol Lt-Gen Noppadol Somboonsap, head of the Special Investigation Department. The government asked him to investigate the project this year.

Yesterday, he reported the results to Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana. Pol Lt-Gen Noppadol declined to name those involved but said they comprised “10 senior state officials and former VIPs”.
Nor would he say whether past or present politicians were on his list.

The suspects embezzled 1.9 billion baht in state funds paid for land in tambon Klong Dan, Bang Phli district, the intended site.

The land had no title deeds, and the accused obtained it illegally. The suspects conspired in an elaborate scheme to inflate the cost of the project, billed as the biggest wastewater treatment facility in Southeast Asia.

The project was started by the Science Ministry in 1995 under the Chuan Leekpai government. It has been dogged by controversy since cabinet approved it 10 years ago with a budget of 13.6 billion baht, for two separate plants on each side of the Chao
Phraya river.

In 1997, cabinet increased the budget to 23 billion baht and changes were made to merge the two plants into one.
Project opponents say Vatana Assavahame, a veteran Samut Prakan politician, engineered the land sale to the government at an inflated price.

One of the firms in the joint venture awarded the contract to develop the project belongs to the family of Labour Minister and Chart Pattana party leader Suwat Liptapanlop. Mr Suwat was the science minister when the project was initiated. He was succeeded by
Yingphan Manasikarn of Prachakorn Thai party.

Senior staff at the Pollution Control Department have been transferred for their involvement, including ex-chief Sirithan Pairoj-Boriboon.

Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s