Lese majeste, fraud and business deals

28 01 2015

Late last year there were a flurry of lese majeste cases, charges and accusations related to the crown prince’s third divorce. In at least two of those many, complicated, personalized cases, there seemed to be accusations of fraudulent behavior that resulted in a charge (see here as one example).

Outside the royal family’s positioning, Prachatai now reports another case that looks like a fraud case gone lese majeste.

Authorities in Nong Khai have arrested Chotechuang Khongkaew, 61, alleging that he “falsely used the name of the monarchy in a scam related to a water management project.” They have accused him of fraud and lese majeste.

It is reported that Chotechuang is a former Royal Irrigation Department employee, who “allegedly claimed that Nong Khai Province was looking to hire companies to conduct projects such as desilting and removing water hyacinth, as part of a mega water management project dedicated to the King.”

Chotechuang allegedly claimed that he was an adviser to the project. It is stated that “[a]bout 50 companies who won bids were required to pay a marginal deposit of five per cent of the value of each sub-project via Chotechuang’s company.”

When the provincial governor denied official involvement in the project, which had already begun. This resulted in:

Kanoksak Muangkaew, owner of one of the companies which won a bid and paid a deposit, said his company was ordered to start work on the project on 5 December, the King’s birthday, but the authorities ordered the company to stop after a few hours. After the governor denied involvement in such projects, he filed a police complaint and submitted a recording of his conversation with Chotechuang as evidence.

It s reported that Chotechuang has pleaded guilty, but it remains unclear which charges were involved in that plea.

It also remains unclear how such an enormous project, valued at billions of baht, got underway in such a small place. PPT suspects there is much more to this case than is reported, and that it may represent a business-state official “deal” gone bad. We may never know the truth because of the lese majeste “cone of silence.”


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