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Samak 'faces graft charges'

OAG has evidence he abused BMA authority over waste projects and called for police probe, source says

Published on August 21, 2007

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has recommended criminal proceedings against former Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, who is tipped to lead the People Power Party that has taken many former Thai Rak Thai MPs.

"The OAG has asked police to report investigation results within 90 days," a well-informed source at the OAG revealed yesterday.

According to the source, the OAG has found convincing evidence Samak and senior officials at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) abused their authority in hiring private companies to undertake waste management in 2003.

The contracts were worth Bt9.58 billion but allegedly caused the state to lose money.

Deputy Auditor General Pisit Leelavachiropas had sent an urgent letter on Friday to acting national police chief Gen Seripisut Temiyavej, recommending criminal proceedings against Samak and other senior officials, the source said.

The officials were BMA Refuse Disposal Division director Adisak Witsawapaisan, BMA Public Cleansing Department deputy director Akradej Homsetthi, deputy city clerk Chaiyuth na Nakhon, who oversees the department, and deputy city clerk Ponglak Wasiksiri. All of them have already retired.

The source said they and Samak were involved in three refuse-disposal projects while working for BMA.

Before the projects were open for bidding, the BMA reportedly consulted the Council of State as to whether the projects would fall under the Public/Private Joint Venture Act that applies to any project of Bt1 billion upwards.

According to the source, the Council of State confirmed that each of the projects was higher than Bt1 billion and should abide by the act. To evade this, the BMA called for bids suggesting investment on the projects must not top Bt1 billion.

The OAG found the BMA chose former entrepreneurs at a higher service fee, and the refuse disposal project was in fact lower than the BMA's projection - resulting in the BMA paying out Bt558 million for nothing.

In response to the OAG move, Kuthep Saikrajang of the Thai Rak Thai Group said Samak had anticipated allegations would emerge against him after he agreed to work with his group and the People Power Party.

"But he is ready to fight the allegations against him," Kuthep said.

Samak would give a speech on his vision at a meeting of the People Power Party on Friday, as scheduled, he said.

Deputy Bangkok Governor Bannasophit Mekwichai, meanwhile, said the BMA would wait to see the OAG documents before deciding whether to cancel the projects.

Bancha Khangkhan,

Jeerawan Prasomsap

The Nation

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