Civil Court finds Supodh guilty of being 'unusually rich'

national January 31, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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The Civil Court found former permanent secretary for Transport Ministry Supodh Sublom guilty of being unusually rich Friday and ordered the seizure of his assets worth Bt46.14 million. Supodh was charged in court on February 9, 2012 by public prosecutors.

The court reasoned that it was impossible for Supodh to have amassed so much wealth through honest means during his time in government.
Supodh faced a graft investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission after eight suspected thieves broke into his house on Soi Lat Phrao 64 on the night of November 12 2011 and made off with Bt18 million in cash and gold ornaments.
After the arrest of the suspects, Supodh initially claimed that only Bt5 million was stolen from his house and the money was a gift for his daughter’s wedding.
Following an investigation, the NACC asked the Civil Court to seize Bt64.998 million worth of Supodh’s assets, including savings in nine bank accounts; savings with the Highway Department cooperative; land plots in Bangkok and the provinces; his house; vehicles; and condominiums. The amount included the Bt18 million retrieved from the thieves.
The NACC told the court that Supodh failed to clarify how he had amassed such a large amount of assets which could not have been accrued merely from his government earnings in the Transport Ministry.
Defending himself, Supodh presented six relatives who claimed that some of the assets frozen by the NACC belonged to them. Supodh also claimed that he had already owned most of the assets before he took the position of permanent secretary for the Transport Ministry. The six relatives are Narumol Saplom, Sutthiwan Saplom, Chalee Chaimongkol, Anek Jongsathien, Suebpong Prapyai, and Sutthawan Prapyai.
The Civil Court ruled that Supodh and his six relatives failed to provide sufficient evidence that the Bt13 million in cash retrieved from the suspected thieves belonged to them.
The court also noted that the six witnesses presented by Supodh were close to him and therefore their testimonies did not carry enough weight without strong evidence.
The court said Supodh began his government service in 1977. In 2012, as permanent secretary, he was required to submit his assets statement to the NACC for the first time. The court noted that during the period Supodh would have earned only about Bt5 million from his government salary. It was therefore irregular for him to report to the NACC that he had assets worth Bt46 million.
The court noted that Supodh’s two daughters had also continued to study abroad after they both received bachelor’s degrees in Thailand. The cost of their schooling should have caused Supodh’s assets to dwindle rather than increase, the court noted.