Top auditor sentenced to three years in jail
The Criminal Court found on Tuesday a top auditor guilty of malfeasance and sentenced him to serve three years in jail for his involvement in the botched nomination process for the position of auditor general in 2001.
Following the verdict session, the court granted bail to Panya Tantiyavarong, who was chairman of the State Audit Commission (SAC) when committing the offence, pending the filing of an appeals within 30 days.
The criminal verdict was in line with the 2004 ruling by the Constitution Court that found the nomination unconstitutional. The yesterday's decision singled out Panya for his culpability.
The criminal trial against Panya was initiated jointly by the government prosecutors and Prathan Dabphet, a nominee for the job.
In its decision, the court said that Panya was tasked by the Constitution to nominate a candidate for the Senate to endorse for the royal appointment as auditor general.
Instead of following precribed procedures, Panya made an arbitrary decision to submit three names for the Senate to choose.
Although the SAC named Prathan as the firstranked nominee for the appointment, Panya opted to name two failed candidates, Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka and Nonthapol Nimsomboon, as nominees too.
The Senate eventually voted to endorse Jaruvan for the job. Yearslong legal wrangling ensued as the high court ruled against the nomination process leading to Jaruvan's appointment but stopped short of addressing her job status.
Early this year, the government acted on the royal advise to reinstate Jaruvan because she was not culpable for the legal mayhem.
"Defendant Panya is welleducated obtaining a doctorate and has worked in many high positions. Yet he violated his highest office in the SAC, an independent organisation, resulting in confusion over the position of auditor general for years," the verdict said.