The murder of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua on Wednesday 6th September has unleashed a chain reaction with the spotlight now falling on suspected corruption linked to construction projects awarded to two firms in the province of Nakhon Pathom. One prosecutor told a TV audience this week that the case could be the biggest ever seen in Thailand if the investigation gets to the heart of the matter with figures released by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Friday, showing that firms linked with Mr Praween Chankhlai or Kamnan Nok were awarded 1,544 local government projects valued at ฿7.57 billion in the years from 2011 to 2023.
A huge parallel case is opening up into corruption in Nakhon Pathom province in the aftermath of the September 6th murder of a police officer at a celebratory event organised by the Kamnan of Ta Kong subdistrict in the province. The investigation pushed by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is looking at over ฿7 billion in government contracts awarded to firms controlled by the local provincial official with a success rate of over 91% in bidding for government tenders concerning construction projects, many awarded through the Ministry of the Interior.
As the investigation into the shooting of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn Saibua on Wednesday, September 6th in Nakhon Pathom continues, along with the continued detention of the Kamnan of Ta Kong sub-district of Nakhon Pathom, another extensive probe has been opened into the business empire run by the local tambon boss known as Mr Praween Chankhlai also known as Kamnan Nok.
On Thursday, on Channel 8 Television in Thailand, a well-known senior prosecutor Mr Pramet Inthrachum, told viewers about the potential fallout and criminal case that has emerged after the outrageous act of murdering a police officer in front of 24 other senior officers of the force.
Huge case opening up centred on provincial corruption and a symbiosis between the police and local construction firms controlled by Kamnan Nok
He said the night in question had opened up a Pandora’s Box into provincial corruption in Thailand.
The case, according to the prosecutor, was bigger than the Am Cyanide serial killer criminal investigation which Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn put to bed in June this year spanning 15 poisoning victims from 2015 to 2022 and 14 murders across seven provinces.
Biggest criminal case in Thai history to be finalised, on Friday, against suspected serial killer Am Cyanide
The prosecutor, Mr Pramet, also noted that ‘Big Joke’ or Deputy Surachate Hakparn was now also at the centre of this investigation and suggested that this did not augur well for those who hoped to have such activities swept again under the cover.
The senior prosecutor also drew attention to the death of Police Colonel Vachira Yaothaisong at his home in Pathum Thani province on Monday last and suggested that the case involves endemic corruption, a possible symbiosis between some activities of the Royal Thai Police in Nakhon Pathom and the construction business activities of Kamnan Nok which has now become the subject of an investigation by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Thailand.
Investigators descended on construction firms
Over the last few days, investigators from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) have descended on construction sites and company headquarters run by Kamnan Nok before his arrest on Thursday 7th September when he surrendered to police after the murder on Wednesday night of Police Lieutenant Colonel Siwakorn.
The prosecutor, speaking to a riveted TV audience on Thursday, suggested that it would have been better for Kamnan Nok’s legal situation if the killer who fired the shots that gunned down the policeman had not died on Friday, September 8th in a gunfight with police.
Mr Pramet said it would have been better for the henchman to have survived and come forward as a witness, accepting responsibility for what happened and swearing that he had gunned down the senior police officer out of anger but was not acting on instructions from his boss, Kamnan Nok.
On Friday, Deputy Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn told reporters that evidence from CCTV footage retrieved so far from a recovered server which had been thrown into a body of water shows conflicting evidence to the testimony of senior police officers who attended the party in the Ta Kong area at the centre of Nakhon Pathom at which the outrageous murder occurred.
Competing firms may have been intimidated or put off by possible prosecution for overweight loads or minor infractions on the roads suggested prosecutor
On Thai television, on Thursday evening, the senior prosecutor drew attention to the success rate of two companies associated with Kamnan Nok in securing lucrative construction projects from the Ministry of the Interior in particular in respect of the construction of roads and highways.
As a matter of key concern, the prosecutor suggested that it may have been possible for the kamnan in association with police, particularly Highway Police, to intimidate other bidders on such projects, particularly concerning weight loads on haulage vehicles etc.
The prosecutor noted the huge success rate of the two companies associated with Kamnan Nok in securing projects at auction when such projects are secured by a bidding process in what is supposed to be a competitive race.
Mr Pramet suggested that it should be virtually impossible for one company to dominate the bidding process as was the case for the projects analysed between 2011 and 2023.
DSI releases details of contracts won by two large firms associated with Kamnan Nok between 2011 and 2023 with nearly ฿7 billion in government contracts
On Thursday, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) released information on current investigations to date covering the last 12 years between 2011 and 2023, focusing on the operations of two companies associated with Mr Praween Chankhlai
These were P. Patanarungroj Construction Company Limited and P. Raweekanok Construction Company Limited.
These firms had secured projects to the value of nearly ฿7 billion in the same time frame, or ฿6.965 billion.
The research used by the Department of Special Investigation showed that the firms had only lost bids on 8.11% of projects for which tenders were submitted or in other words a 91.89% success rate.
Both companies had Mr Praween Chankhlai or Kamnan Nok as a director with two other individuals.
In 2022, the company P. Patanarungroj Construction Company Limited generated ฿569.59 million in income which generated a net profit of ฿2.49 million. The other company, P. Raweekanok Construction Company Limited, had an income in the same period of ฿176.89 million.
It generated a profit of ฿2.73 million, paying income tax of ฿687,038.
Most projects linked with the Ministry of the Interior
The research showed that the firms had been successful in 1,277 projects from the Ministry of Interior, including 1,206 projects from the Department of Local Administration and 71 projects from the Department of Provincial Administration.
The firm also carried out 263 projects for the Ministry of Transport as well as 153 projects for the Department of Rural Roads.
Both companies were also contractors to the Air Force and in respect of one project, for the Office of the Higher Education Commission.
On Sunday last, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ordered Big Joke or General Surachate Hakparn to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the matter that would lead to a decisive outcome while also ensuring fairness to all parties.
It is being reported that this week, the family of Kamnan Nok, including close relations, have made representations to investigating officers working on the case.
Speaking with reporters last Sunday, Thailand’s senior police officer, Deputy Police Chief General Surachate, suggested that the motive for the killing was the refusal of the dead police officer to compromise his authority relating to the management of subordinate police officers for whom he was responsible.
Top cop says the business contractor or minor provincial official was excessively confident in his influence over the police force in Nakhon Pathom
Big Joke or General Surachate suggested that Kamnan Nok, the accused man at the centre of the case, was excessively confident in his perceived influence over the police force and that such a matter of state of affairs can no longer be acceptable in Thailand.
On Friday, it was announced that the Royal Thai Police had set up a special task force to handle the ancillary investigation that has now developed focusing on the two companies operated by Mr Praween Chankhlai or Kamnan Nok.
The task force includes representatives from the Revenue Department, the Comptroller General’s Department, the State Audit Office, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission charged with oversight of the public sector.
The task force will report to General Surachate who will continue to direct the process and details of the investigation.
According to the latest figures released on Friday, Mr Praween’s firms have been awarded 1,544 different projects since 2011, valued in total at ฿7.57 billion.
This is according to the latest figures released this week by the Director General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
Last week, the newly appointed Minister of the Interior Anutin Charnvirakul, appointed fellow Bhumjaithai Party MP and Deputy Minister of the Interior, Chada Thaiset, to begin his investigation into provincial corruption across the kingdom after disturbing questions were raised by this case.