Shinawtra software deal in the spotlight
The auditor-general has been asked to investigate alleged irregularities surrounding the Provincial Electricity Authority's (PEA) Bt3-billion software lease deal signed more than two years ago with a company linked to the Shinawatra family.
Democrat Party deputy leader Alongkorn Pollabutr has alleged the contract was suspicious, pointing out that the deal was won by a company part-owned by a sister of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Alongkorn has provided Auditor-General Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka with documents that he says support his suspicions.
He said the government changed its plan to buy software and decided to rent it in a deal signed on March 17, 2004.
Alongkorn alleged there was no benefit in the government renting software as opposed to buying it.
He said Monthatip Kowitcharoenkul, Thaksin's sister, was a co-owner of the only company technically qualified to provide the service - a joint venture between Siemens, IBM and Portal Net.
Monthatip owns Portal Net.
That the bid offer was close to the median price set by the PEA and appeared inflated was also cause for concern, said Alongkorn.
He said the joint-venture company had registered capital of just Bt1 million, but won bidding for a project worth more than Bt3 billion.
He said he wondered whether there had been lobbying, or outright corruption, in relation to the project.
Jaruvan said she told Alongkorn he should not have come to her, as people might think she was motivated by her recent conflicts with the government if she responded to the former opposition party's calls for an investigation.
Jaruvan was suspended from her duties as attorney-general in 2004, only to be re-appointed earlier this year, after a public spat with the ruling administration.
Alongkorn has filed his complaint as a Thai citizen, she said.
He is also investigating alleged irregularities behind a bank loan for Bt800 million for a housing estate project that is linked to Yaowapha Wongsawat, another of Thaksin's sisters.