Pheu Thai MP cries foul over corruption watchdog’s bribery finding
Pheu Thai MP for Thailand’s Muk Dahan province, Anurak Tangpanitarnnont, has described as “hasty” the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s (NACC) decision to find him at fault following an allegation that he demanded a 5-million baht bribe from the director-general of Underground Water Resources Department in exchange for endorsing the department’s budget.
NACC Secretary-General Niwatchai Kasemmongkol told the media today (Friday) that it had conducted an investigation after having received a complaint from Sakda Wichiensilp, director-general of Underground Water Resources Department, about the alleged bribery.
He said Sakda told them that he received a call from a party-list MP of the Prachapiwat party, who then transferred the line to Anurak, who allegedly demanded the bribe in exchange for the smooth passage of the department’s budget.
He said there are sufficient grounds to believe that the demand for a bribe is true and the NACC decided that Anurak had committed misconduct, in accordance with Section 148 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/5 of the Constitution, which is regarded as a gross ethical violation.
Anurak claimed that the NACC’s ruling was hasty, adding that he had testified once before the probe panel last month and that the panel has not questioned any of his witnesses.
He admitted that the cell phone which was used in the call belonged to him, which he claimed was borrowed by a fellow MP, but he denied he had ever demanded the 5 million baht bribe as he challenged the NACC to release the recording of the conversation between Sakda and the person who claimed to be him.
The embattled Pheu Thai MP disclosed that he had questioned Sakda over some details of the department’s budget, but could not get proper answers.
He insisted that he, as a member of the budget scrutiny committee, has no final say in slashing the department’s budget.