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NACC to pursue case against ICT ex-minister Surapong

THE NATIONAL anti-graft agency yesterday resolved to pursue a malfeasance case against Surapong Suebwonglee, who served as information and communications technology minister in one of Thaksin Shinawatra's administrations, and two senior permanent officials at the ICT Ministry.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) found that in 2004, Surapong, then-ICT deputy permanent secretary Kraisorn Pornsutee, and the Space Affairs Bureau's then-executive director Chaiyan Peungkiatpairote had committed "severe disciplinary violations and dereliction of duty".

They were found responsible for changes in a concession contract, allowing Shin Corp to reduce its shareholding in Shin Satellite from 51 per cent to 40 per cent.

Shin Corp was then owned by the Shinawatra family.

In 2003, Shin Satellite, which is now known as Thaicom, requested a reduction in the shareholding. It cited the need to find partners to help expand its communication-satellite business.

Chaiyan proposed the contract changes to the ICT Ministry.

Kraisorn, deputy permanent secretary for ICT at the time, later wrote to the Office of the Attorney-General to consult about the changes.

After the Office found "no cause for the state to lose" in the reduction of Shin Corp's shareholding, Surapong submitted the proposal to the Cabinet.

However, the matter was referred back to the ICT minister, who decided to authorise the reduction himself.

NACC members yesterday voted 6-2 to refer the case to the Office, with a view to it being taken to the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

The anti-graft agency also agreed to refer the case to the supervisors of Chaiyan and Kraisorn, for disciplinary action to be taken against them.

Klanarong Chanthick, the ninth NACC member, withdrew from the voting on the grounds that he had considered the case when serving as a member of the Assets Examination Committee (AEC), which was set up after the 2006 coup to investigate corruption charges against certain members of the Thaksin Cabinet.


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