Rolls-Royce Probe Ggrinds To A Halt

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has admitted there has been no progress in its investigation into the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal involving two major state enterprises.

The observation was made ahead of the meeting of a newly-appointed joint committee on anti-graft to be held Monday to consider high-profile corruption cases, including the Rolls-Royce scandal.

NACC secretary-general, Sansern Poljeak, said the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which is pursuing lawsuits against British manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce over corrupt acts, has not yet handed over documents to the Thai agency.

He said British officials are apparently concerned about the confidentiality of the information they are expected to forward to Thai officials for use in the probe, after the joint committee was set up.

Committee members from several agencies hope to accelerate and coordinate the handling of transnational graft cases, he said.

The NACC needs hard evidence from the SFO and other official foreign agencies to take legal action against the accused.

After the panel was formed last week, the SFO sent an email to the NACC expressing concerns about the confidentiality of the information it would hand over to the NACC, he said.

Mr Sansern said the issue will be raised when the committee meets Monday to lay down guidelines for its work which was prompted by a series of international bribery scandals linked to Thai officials in the past few months.

He added that the NACC has not yet received documents from the US Department of Justice.

The panel is headed by NACC president Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit and comprises the section heads of various agencies such as the Justice Ministry, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Auditor-General.

Its job is to supervise, direct, and accelerate the handling of all transnational corruption cases. It is expected to tighten coordination between agencies working on the cases to speed up the work.

Mr Sansern said there are almost 20 cases of transnational corruption for the committee to handle but it will not go into the details of those cases in its first meeting, including the Rolls-Royce bribery case.

The SFO recently revealed 12 counts in which Rolls-Royce had engaged in corrupt acts or failed to prevent bribery in seven countries — Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, Nigeria, China and Malaysia.

The bribery case in Thailand involved the purchase of engines for Thai Airways International aircraft in which the British firm admitted to bribing Thai state agents and employees of THAI.

Spanning from 1991 to 2005, the scandal involves spending of 1.28 billion baht, which were allegedly paid to help the British firm secure deals with the carrier.

Earlier, the NACC claimed the maximum penalty in the new Anti-Corruption Act, which is the death penalty for bribery cases, was an obstacle in getting information. Capital punishment is not accepted by many foreign countries as it violates human rights principles.

PTT Plc president and chief executive Tevin Vongvanich earlier admitted the firm had made no progress in its internal investigation into the Rolls-Royce bribery allegations which were made by the US Justice Department.

The energy giant set up an internal investigative committee consisting of company members who have never been involved in procurement or auction processes in order to ensure transparency.

Mr Tevin said the committee continued to gather evidence and information.

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