Mr Thapanaphong, an engineer employed by the business safety division within the Ministry of Energy proposed a ฿50,000 bribe at a meeting arranged at a coffee shop on July 22nd last. The amount was subsequently negotiated down to ฿20,000 and paid over, on Monday, after which police made their move.

Two engineers working with the Oil Business Safety Department at the Ministry of Energy were arrested by police this week following a tip-off to the Office of the Public Sector Anti Corruption Commission after they extracted a ฿20,000 bribe from a Thai firm applying for a change of status.

The two officials arrested this week (centre and inset) were detained at Bang Sue Police Station in Bangkok. Both were engineers with the Oil Business Safety Division of the Ministry of Energy. They denied any wrongdoing and said that the alleged bribe of ฿20,000 was a gift from the company. The arrests were made in conjunction with the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission which was tipped off by the firm.

Two officials at Thailand’s Department of Energy were arrested this week after trying to solicit a bribe from a Bangkok firm seeking permission to change its status. The incident is reported to have occurred on Monday although the request for a bribe occurred months ago.

The two officials, who have not been fully named, worked at the Oil Business Safety Division of the Department of Energy.

Meeting invite as firm sought to apply for a change of status to operate an oil warehousing facility

In July this year, it is reported, a company based in the Chatuchak area of Bangkok had lodged an application to change the status of its business operations in Chonburi to that of an oil warehousing business.

A representative of the company, after submitting the application, was invited to meet with an official at the government department. The official in question was a qualified engineer, named by arresting officials this week as Mr Thapanaphong. 

The meeting took place at a coffee shop.

Media briefed by a senior official at the Office of the Public Sector Anti Corruption Commission

Details of the arrests were given on Tuesday to the media by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, Phumiwisal Kasemsuk.

Mr Phumiwisal’s agency was called in after the company made contact with his office.

‘A representative of the company had tipped off the PAAC that it had filed to change the business status to oil warehousing business in Chonburi province on July 22 at the Oil Business Safety Division, Department of Energy Business, Ministry of Energy,’ said Phumiwisal.

‘The official who accepted the petition was Thapanaphong, a professional engineer of the division, who allegedly told the company representative to meet him at a coffee shop and allegedly demanded ฿50,000 from the victim as a fee to process the document within 45 days.’

Two ministry officials arrested by police at Bang Sue Police Station in Bangkok after money paid

At length, the company successfully negotiated the price to be paid down to ฿20,000. The money is understood to have been paid over this Monday.

This led to the arrest of the Ministry of Energy official together with an accomplice Mr Jakchai, also a senior engineer with the Oil Business Safety Department at the Ministry of Energy..

The two arrested officials were brought to Bang Sue Police Station in Bangkok after police, alerted by the Public Sector Anti Corruption Commission, swooped in and arrested the pair.

The men have been charged with abusing their position as government officials. Investigators are also tracking the money paid over to see if there were others linked with the racket.

It is reported that the two men have defended their actions telling police officers that the money was nothing more than a gift paid by the company concerned.

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