Bangkok police say elephant tusks they seized at the home of construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta last month had been legally registered by his wife.
Deputy national police commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said any further action regarding the tusks would be up to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Srivara drew a barrage of criticism after a photo appeared online showing him bowing deeply in greeting Premchai, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, when he arrived at Thong Pha Phum Police Station in Kanchanaburi to answer poaching charges.
Premchai and three accomplices are accused of shooting dead several wild animals, including a critically endangered black leopard, in a wildlife sanctuary in Kanchanaburi last month.
Srivara responded to critics by saying his respectful wai to the accused had no bearing on the way the case would be investigated.
In contrast, Wichian Shinwong, the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary official who arrested Premchai and the others at their forest camp, has been widely lauded for ignoring Premchai’s status as a wealthy executive of a large firm.
Counter Corruption Division chief Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha said investigators would interview Wichian on Wednesday (March 7), seeking more information about Premchai’s alleged attempt to bribe his way out of the arrest.
“If Wichien maintains he was offered a bribe, that will be that,” Kamol said. The sanctuary official’s word would be sufficient without the need to relocate an audio recording of the alleged bribery that has gone missing.
Kamol said investigators would listen to an audio clip published online and include its content in their case report.
He said a “simulation” would be conducted to check whether Wichien’s claim of being offered a bribe represented grounds for further action.
If that proves to be the case, Premchai would be summoned to face an additional charge of attempted bribery.
Asked about construction firm’s donation of flashlights to park officers on February 3, Kamol said investigators would examine the intent. An executive at the firm has insisted the gift was not intended as a bribe.
Kamol said National Anti-Corruption Commission regulations allow civil servants to accept gifts worth up to Bt3,000. Gifts beyond that value must be reported to a supervisor.