Two men were jailed in November 2019 for accepting ฿20 million in corrupt payments by the Criminal Court in Bangkok. Now released, police are ready to question the duo to ascertain the source of the bribery payments which a court ruling has already suggested came from Sakulthorn Juangroongruangkit, the Chief Executive of Real Asset Development, a successful Bangkok based property development firm. The controversy has led to House Law and Justice Committee Chairman and Palang Pracharat MP, Sira Jenjaka, calling for a thorough investigation into Mr Sakulthorn relating to a proposed 12 rai commercial site purchase in Bangkok.
The Chief of the elite Crime Suppression Police in Bangkok, Police Major General Suwat Saengnum, told reporters on Sunday that it would be premature to summon the brother of one of Thailand’s leading political figures as officers prepare to question two released convicts over an alleged bribery payment. One is an ex-official with the Crown Property Bureau. He did, however, confirm that a separate police investigation has been launched into the corrupt payments for which the two men were jailed for six years by the Criminal Court in November 2019 after it found they had accepted substantial bribery payments reported at ฿20 million
CSD officers in Bangkok are now pursuing a separate investigation into bribery and corruption which may implicate the brother of Thailand’s Progressive Movement leader who is himself the boss of one of the country’s most dynamic and successful property development concerns.
Top police investigators with the Crime Suppression Division are reported to be preparing to interview two men, including one official who formerly worked with the Crown Property Bureau, over allegations that they may have received bribes from the younger brother of Progressive Movement and former Future Forward Party leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Mr Thanathorn’s brother is Sakulthorn Juangroongruangkit who is the Chief Executive of Real Asset Development which is a thriving and dynamic, billion baht property development firm owned by the wealthy Juangroongruangkit family.
Property firm reported growth of 37% in 2020
The firm reported revenue growth of 37% in 2020 at ฿1.1 billion from ฿800 million a year earlier with a range of developments including townhouses and enterprise centres.
The two men, who are now being summoned by CSD police, have recently been released early from prison after they were jailed for six years, last year in November, by the Criminal Court in Bangkok which confirmed charges of corruption and misconduct against them.
The charges related to taking bribes and the forgery of documents.
Two men jailed over ฿20 million in payments that court ruled as bribery in November 2019 judgment
The court, in its final ruling in the case, found that ฿20 million in bribery payments had found its way to the two men named as Prasit Aphaiphoncharn, a Crown Property Bureau official and a Mr Surakit Tangwithoowanich.
Sources with CSD headquarters have suggested that the men refused to reveal details of the origin of the money paid to them while in prison and that police did not receive cooperation from them with their ongoing enquiries.
Officers have explained that both men went to great lengths to conceal the source of the money which they had received.
Bribery scandal came to light in 2017
The bribery case came to light in 2017 and the case was quickly linked to Mr Thanathorn’s brother Mr Sakulthorn at that time. This was later confirmed in the court’s ruling.
The court noted that Mr Sakulthorn had acted as if he could close the property deal which was at the centre of the scandal, without observing normal bidding requirements laid down.
The land in question, reported to be a 12 rai plot, is in the Ploenchit commercial district and is currently being occupied by TOT, the Telephone Organisation of Thailand.
House Committee Chairman urges investigation
The case had drawn the eagle eye of MP and activist, Sira Jenjaka, of the Palang Pracharat Party.
Mr Sira is the Chairman of the House Law and Justice Committee and has said that it is abundantly clear, after the court’s judgement last year, that Mr Sakulthorn has been involved in criminal activity.
He has called for a thorough investigation into the case by police including an examination of the money trail and the appointment of a prosecutor if appropriate.
Attorney General’s Office issued a statement last week on the case and the raging scandal over the payments
Last week, the Office of the Attorney General issued a statement in which it explained that any move on the case against Mr Sakulthorn was a matter for police agencies.
It underlined that initial charges, in the case, were not brought against the property developer.
‘Police are independent in the investigation of their case, just as the prosecutors are independent. We do not poke our noses in and make inquiries. We do not do that,’ said Charnchai Chalanonniwat, a deputy spokesman for the office.
Mr Charnchai acknowledged the court’s judgement in November last year and noted that the police were also aware of this.