Suthep indicted for construction contracts

BANGKOK: Former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban is on trial by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court for political office holders for alleged irregularities in plans to build police stations and housing while he was deputy Prime Minister more than ten years ago.

Former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, second from left, arrives at the criminal court to hear his indictment for alleged wrongdoing. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul / Bangkok Post

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) filed the indictment in court against Mr. Suthep on Tuesday, November 30, reports the Bangkok Post.

Mr Suthep faces the indictment along with four other people and the company responsible for constructing the projects while he was deputy prime minister in the administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

He is accused of bringing all the construction projects together into one and awarding the contracts to a single contractor who failed to complete them.

Two members of the committee that approved the plans were also among those charged on Tuesday. They allegedly failed to examine the price offers submitted by the company which were deemed to be abnormally low.

The court has set the first hearing for February 17 next year.

The NACC started working on the case two years ago. The agency examined in detail the minutes of the meetings and other documentary evidence.

Mr Suthep has also been accused of failing to consult his fellow ministers regarding changes to construction contracts after their merger. It also granted a private company the right to be the sole entrepreneur, instead of dividing the contracts between different companies.

The former prime minister is also accused of violating the 1999 law against price collusion. One project involves the construction of 396 police stations, worth 5.84 billion baht, which has been approved by Mr. Abhisit’s cabinet.

Many police stations remained unfinished when the contractor, being the only company to manage so many construction sites at the same time, reportedly abandoned the project.

The NACC also found grounds for allegations relating to the construction of 163 police housing buildings that had been proposed with the police station project. The same company was also hired to build the apartments which also suffered delays.

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