June 23, 2014 00:00 By NATTHAPAT PHROMKAEW
BUSINESSMEN found to be corruptly involved with officials in state projects will be prosecuted, under a reform plan by the military, anti-graft commissioner Vicha Mahakun says.
A drastic legal amendment will be needed to empower the National Anti-Corruption Commission to interrogate such business people after officials are found guilty of corruption, Vicha said, adding that the United Nations’ anti-corruption body suggested the move to officials in various countries to add power to their anti-graft work.
Citing a legal principle under British law, business people subject to a criminal investigation need to produce proof of their innocence or adequate carefulness to distance themselves from corrupt activities with government officials that they have entered into contracts with. In many countries where wiretapping by anti-graft agencies is allowed, a criminal investigation into a specious case can begin without a bribe being paid.
Vicha said arrests had been made in Japan where secret meetings to discuss suspect deals were underway.
Current Thai law says that making preparation for corrupt activity is not illegal, but Vicha said materials or talks were good leads that could result in criminal liability. “Under the current regulations, the NACC’s authority to commence probes is viable only after potentially corrupt state officials are identified,” he added.
In most NACC cases, only junior officials are caught because business owners protect senior officials, he said, adding that anti-graft agencies in other countries are more empowered.
Vicha said the NACC’s Bureau of International Affairs had prepared the draft amendment for the law change but it was not yet finalised.