BMA seeks to 'kill' fire engines deal after ruling

national September 17, 2013 00:00

By Tanatpong Kongsai
The Nation

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The Bangkok governor is cranking up efforts to kill a contract signed with an Austrian firm to supply fire vehicles following a landmark corruption ruling last week on the highly controversial deal.

In the hope of adding more weight to their plea, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has said that it will ask a Switzerland-based arbitrator to regard the Supreme Court’s ruling, under which a former deputy interior ministry was sentenced to 12 years in jail, as evidence. 
The BMA also wants the Attorney General to file a lawsuit with the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court in order to get Austria’s Steyr Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug to revoke the contract under which it sold fire vehicles for Bt6.6 billion. 
The city administration has asked the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in Geneva to help get the contract revoked and to seek a refund for unused fire vehicles, which it says stemmed from the corrupt deal. 
The BMA also wants related officials to pay damages at the Central Administrative Court, while the relevant agency will take disciplinary action against these officials. 
Bangkok Governor Sukhumb-hand Paribatra said the Supreme Court ruling was clear proof the fire vehicles were bought under a questionable deal, and that it supports the BMA’s push for the arbitrator to revoke the contract and get a full refund. 
He said the BMA would be sending the arbitrator a translation of the ruling to further its case. 
The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found both Pracha Maleenont and former senior BMA official Athilak Tanchookiat guilty of rigging bids in the fire vehicles case. Athilak was sentenced to 10 years in prison. 
The pair allegedly pushed for the purchase of 315 fire trucks and 30 fire-fighting boats without comparing prices, which allowed the Austrian company to sell the vehicles at a price that was nearly 49 per cent higher than it would have been if bought locally.
Pracha was absent when the verdict was read. He is thought to have fled abroad.

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