11 July 2024

Former deputy agriculture minister and a member of the Palang Pracharat party Wirat Rattanaseth and his wife, Mrs. Tassaniya, also a member of the party, were among 24 people and companies faulted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for involvement in massive systematic corruption related to the construction of futsal courts in 18 northeastern provinces, worth about 4.459 billion baht.

NACC secretary-general Worawit Sookboon said today that the group, which included six national and local politicians, nine government officials and nine companies and others, worked as a team by splitting up their duties and coordinating with one another to plunder funds from the 2012 fiscal budget earmarked for the construction of courts at schools in 18 northeastern provinces, despite the fact that many of the schools had not asked for the futsal courts in the first place.

He said that collusion was rampant in the procurement process, with the private sector operators having close relationships with the officials and politicians.

He cited the case of Mrs. Tassanaporn Kasemmethikaroon, mayor of Tambon Huey Thalaeng, sister of Mrs. Tassaniya, for allegedly interfering with the disbursement of the budget for the project at several schools in Nakhon Ratchasima.

One of the officials faulted by the NACC was Mr. Chinnapat Phumirat, then secretary-general of the Basic Education Commission. Mr. Worawit said that Mr. Chinnapat worked out a proposed budget of 7 billion baht for the futsal project in the Northeast, without details of where the futsal courts were to be built or how much money was needed for each court, apparently to pave the way for Mr. Wirat, in his capacity as the House coordinator, and his associates to ask for additional budget for the project.

Most of the futsal courts which were completed did not last long and were later abandoned because they were paved with substandard synthetic floor mats.