Thai government chief whip and 83 others face indictment for futsal court project corruption

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) has decided to indict government chief whip and Palang Pracharat MP Wirat Rattanaseth, his wife and 82 other individuals for involvement in alleged corruption in the construction of futsal courts in several northeastern provinces.

Attorney-General Wongsakul Kittipromwong said Friday that a joint committee, comprising representatives of the OAG and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), had agreed to the indictments in connection with the alleged corruption case in Nakhon Ratchasima province and to combine the seven case files.

Mrs. Siriya Inthamara, director-general of the OAG’s Anti-Corruption Office, told the media that they are in the process of drafting an indictment by combining the seven cases but, to ensure fairness to all the accused, she said it will specify the offences allegedly committed, because some are implicated in just one of the seven case files, such as the engineer who was responsible for designing the futsal courts.

As far as Mr. Wirat is concerned, she said that the Palang Pracharat MP is implicated in just one case file.

She expects the OAG to be able to indict the 84 individuals in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Officer Holders this month.

Commenting on the OAG’s decision, Mr. Wirat said that he is not worried and expected the decision about two years ago.

The alleged corruption took place in 2012, when a budget of about 4.5 billion baht was allocated, by the government of the day, for the construction of futsal courts in schools in 18 northeastern provinces, under the supervision of the branch office of Office of the Primary Education Commission, based in Nakhon Ratchasima province.

According to the NACC, corruption occurred in all stages of the project, starting with the initiation of the project by the Office of the Primary Education Commission, the approval and allocation of the budget by the Budget Bureau, set at about 7 billion baht before being reduced to 4.5 billion, to the drafting of the TOR in favor of certain bidders and construction materials as well as collusion among companies involved in the construction.

For instance, the type of futsal court floor mats were specified in the TOR to be of a type not designed for outdoor use and the prices quoted were 8-9 times higher than the normal 330 baht per piece. As most of the futsal courts were built in the open and without shade, the mats peeled off and most of the courts have now been abandoned.

Two Palang Pracharat MPs, several government officials from the Office of the Primary Education Commission, the Budget Bureau and businessmen have also been implicated by the NACC.


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