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Rolls-Royce bribery investigation to conclude by end of the year: NACC


THE NATIONAL anti-graft agency is expected to conclude its ongoing investigation into the high-profile Rolls-Royce bribery scandal by the end of the year.

Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said the anti-graft agency was in the process of acquiring evidence and questioning witnesses. He added that the investigative team would provide a progress report every two months, the National News Bureau of Thailand reported yesterday.
The NACC chairman said the investigative team had been in contact with Britain’s anti-corruption agency to request information about the case. He also said the agency expected the case to be concluded by the end of this year. The ongoing investigation is focused on allegedly unlawful dealings between Rolls-Royce and Thai Airways International.
Earlier this year, the Serious Fraud Office of the United Kingdom disclosed that Rolls-Royce had paid bribes to Thai government and Thai Airways officials through regional “intermediaries” in exchange for deals to purchase Rolls-Royce engines. About Bt1.2 billion in bribes was allegedly paid to officials involved in three major deals from 1991 to 2005, according to the Serious Fraud Office.
Watcharapol’s remark came as the NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljieak expressed concerns that it would be difficult to trace the financial trail of the bribes.
“We are worried about the examination of the money trail in an attempt to determine who was involved [in the bribery scandal]. There may be limitations. This is not easy because we need to conduct an in-depth examination of the people involved,” Sansern said.
“But we have to do it because it’s a policy,” he added.
Sansern said relevant authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom had offered their cooperation to the NACC regarding the scandal.
He also said the anti-graft agency was preparing to submit a report indicting former Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Juthamas Siriwan for fraud within a week so that the Office of the Attorney-General could file a lawsuit against her. 
Sansern said the move was to enable the NACC to confiscate Bt65 million that Juthamas accepted illegally from an American couple who she helped secure a contract to host the Bangkok International Film Festival between 2002 and 2007. He said such a lawsuit would help the NACC seize Juthamas’ overseas assets more easily and quickly.
The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases last week sentenced Juthamas to 50 years in jail for accepting bribes and her daughter Jittisopha to 44 years’ imprisonment for helping hide the bribes in her overseas bank accounts.
Sansern said the NACC would use the case as a model for other investigations involving the confiscation of assets hidden overseas by corrupt state officials in cooperation with foreign authorities.

Published : April 02, 2017

By : THE NATION