Corruption cover-ups again and again

28 01 2017

Rolls Royce has a motto: “At Rolls-Royce we design, develop, manufacture and service integrated power systems for use in the air, on land and at sea.”

Tarnished somewhat by recent scandals, but we thought it could be of use for Thailand’s heavily tarnished military junta: “At the junta we design, develop, manufacture and service corruption systems and alibis for use by the great, the good and the military brass.”

PPT has posted on the Rolls Royce admissions of quite large corrupt payments to officials of Thai Airways and state officials over a considerable period of time.

The admissions are clear and Rolls Royce has paid a price for its corrupt activities. In the junta’s Thailand, however, it seems that nothing will be done.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Sansern Poljeak has declared that “a lack of unity among state agencies, and the death penalty on corruption cases, are hindering its efforts at getting in-depth information on the Rolls-Royce bribery case from foreign agencies.”

This is horse manure. The death penalty is a red herring. All the Thai state needs to do is guarantee that the penalty won’t be used.

On “confusion,” the NACC claims the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office are dummies. He says they “may be confused as to which state agencies in Thailand are directly responsible for handling bribery cases.” In fact, this could appear much more like a device for a cover-up.

As a Thai bureaucrat he thinks all bureaucrats are the same: “The foreign agencies may not dare provide information and they may have to seek permission from their superiors, which could make procedures more complicated…”.

It is clear that he’s making this up. He has no idea what the “foreign agencies” will actually do. This is partly because his agency is isolated and politicized. It is also firmly under the military junta’s boot. If The Dictator wanted something done, the NACC would do it.

But Sansern  is right on one thing. Confusion is created when the “NACC, the Office of the Auditor-General, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Thai Airways International Plc and various other agencies have all formed their own teams to seek more information from overseas.” It is also great for the beneficiaries of corruption because many agencies usually means nothing happens, apart from the cover-up.

In a later report, the NACC appears to have capitulated and rolled over to have its tummy rubbed.

It has “advised Thai Airways International (THAI) to pursue civil lawsuits for damage caused by those involved in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” No effort will be made to look at the “first two periods involving the scandal” because “the 20-year statute of limitations for bribery cases that took place … has now expired.”

One the corruption for the “third period between 2004-2005 … THAI can still pursue civil action against those involved during this period…”.

Sansern, who a few hours earlier was worried about multiple agencies being involved in the (non)investigation, suggested that the “national carrier can also petition the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to examine the money trails of those involved and freeze their assets.”

Sansern then explained the cover-up. He declared that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha did not need “to exercise his special power under Section 44 of the interim charter to extend the statute of limitations on those expired bribery cases, as this would cast the country in a negative light.”

It might also expose the high and mighty. All governments from the military regime of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and Anand Punyarachun to Thaksin Shinawatra are potentially involved as are dozens of high and mighty royalists, generals, air chief marshals and, perhaps, even the current king, who was provided a position with the airline.

Sansern then “revealed” that the “NACC fact-finding panel can identify who was the transport minister, the deputy transport minister, and THAI officials at the time of the bribery scandal that took place in the third period, though the panel still cannot establish any connection between them and the bribery.”

Jeez, they did an online search using Wikipedia and downloaded Thai Airways annual reports. Wow! Such diligence is, well, pathetic.

But wait! “The NACC panel will have to wait for more information from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before taking further action…”. Have they even asked? What did they ask for? How did they ask? Or is this yet another red herring that will dissolve into the swamp of corruption (non)investigations?

Oh, wait! Sansern said the “NACC held a teleconference meeting with the SFO on Thursday to discuss the matter.” With who? Is that “official”? Well, no. The “SFO had asked the NACC for a formal written confirmation that the NACC is the main agency responsible for handling the bribery cases.”

And there’s more: Sansern said “the questions the NACC will ask the SFO will cover who received the bribes, when and how.” Get out! Really! Wow. These guys are sub-professionals.

The cover-up is proceeding.





Updated: On Article 44 and jobs for the junta’s boys

19 05 2016

PPT has continued looking through material available for the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. For those interested in the review’s draft report and lists of recommendations, this is available at the UPR Extranet (https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/25session/Thailand/Pages/default.aspx) logging in [username: hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session].

In recent days we looked at two pieces of the Thailand country submission, one a Statement on Civil and Political Rights and the other a Statement on Military Court. Both were presented by members of the huge Thailand delegation.

Both are cut-and-paste jobs and poorly written. The first, for example, confuses a person acquitted under the lese majeste law with one who is convicted. That’s a remarkable error!

Or maybe a slip of the pen, for almost no one is acquitted under Article 112.

We were drawn back to the claims about Article 44. The delegation states:

On Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, the power authorized under Section 44 is not new in the history of Thai politics. During the past 50 years, article similar to Section 44 has appeared in other Interim Constitutions. Section 44 is invoked only under specific circumstances and has been used in a limited manner. Since its entry into force, the NCPO has exercised its power under this Section to maintain public order and to enhance bureaucratic efficiency where ordinary laws and regulations do not exist, such as in anti-human trafficking efforts, anti-drug policy, and civil aviation issues.

Even in this statement, it is evident that “limited manner” is a manipulation of the truth. It is not clear how “bureaucratic efficiency” requires a draconian decree like this. More recently, there is another example of the junta using Article 44 as an order that serves its interests and doing things that might otherwise be illegal (if Thailand were not a military dictatorship) and placing trusted operatives in key positions.

According to the Bangkok Post, the junta has used Article 44 for an appointment that has again “bypassed the screening process…”. The military junta has appointed Police General “Chaiya Siriamphunkul of the Royal Thai Police Office the new chief of the Anti-Money Laundering Office.”

The junta stated that it used Article 44 for this appointment to “facilitate the ‘urgent tasks’ carried out by the agency, while the selection process was ‘time-consuming’, according to the Royal Gazette” announcement.

Clearly, appointing a critical position in an agency such as AMLO should require a clean record and a “process,” but not for the junta, which wants control into the future and appoints trusted acolytes.

Chaiya has royal, Privy Council and business connections. He has a long record of anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activism. He has previously been entrusted with chairing the committee charged with removing Thaksin’s police rank and decorations. Obviously, this is another case of jobs for the junta’s boys and using Article 44 facilitates that and prevents any scrutiny.

Update: On misleading the UN, readers may find the account by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights useful. They take up 16 aspects where the junta’s delegation has lied, misrepresented or fudged.





Updated: Panama papers II

6 04 2016

We continue to look for data on Thailand in the Panama Papers. So far we aren’t having too much luck. We were, however, reminded of an earlier report of some 600 Thais stashing loot overseas.

That 2013 report, also from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, included Pojaman Shinawatra, Nalinee Taveesin, Bhanapot Damapong, members of the Chirathivat family, Yuenyong Opakul, and note this very carefully, the Vongkusolkit family and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian.

The latter was described as “the former deputy permanent secretary of defense, who is listed as one of many shareholders in the British Virgin Islands company Vnet Capital International Co., Ltd in 1998” with 2006 coup connections and who is described in a Wikileaks cable as an acolyte of Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda.

On the new release of leaks from Mossack Fonseca, the main new report we have seen was in the Bangkok Post. It states that the “Office of the Auditor-General has weighed in on the so-called Panama Papers, asking the Revenue Department to look into tax payment records of Thai nationals named in a list of people allegedly using a Panama-based law firm for offshore holdings.”moneybags 1

Yet, as might be expected in a country that is protective of its wealthy elites and ruled by a military junta, a cover-up seems likely, unless the junta can come across the names of those it sees as political opponents. At the moment, “Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Koomchaya and the business community are urging the public not to rush to conclusions and let regulators verify the information first.”

“Verify” sounds like “cover-up” or “manipulate.”

Like the rich everywhere, the first bleat refers to law rather than ethics: “… using offshore company structures is a normal and legal business practice.” Not paying tax is legal they say. In Thailand, tax, like so many other things, is malleable and politicized.

Recall that Thaksin Shinawatra’s sale of the Shin Corp involved tax havens. While he didn’t have to pay tax on the transfers in Thailand, there was an outcry over this, and the opposition to him was strengthened. Now, it seems, things are to be reversed. So much for Buddhist ethics and the “good” of “The Good People.”

The report says there are “almost 400 Thais among 780 individuals who used Thailand as a residence and 50 companies were named on the lists.” While it is stated that “[p]rominent names include well-known business people, politicians, a former military officer and celebrities…”, only a few names are named.

As the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) observes, “there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts and it does not intend to suggest or imply that those named in the leak have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”

General Paiboon said “… the leak is not verified information. But once it’s verified, no one can dodge an investigation. So let Amlo [Anti-Money Laundering Office] work on this first…”.

Our question is: Where are Thailand’s journalists who should be working on this? In most other countries, journalists are pouring out stories.

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas says “he has seen the list and had proceeded to ask the tax authority to review tax records to detect any possible wrongdoing.” He names no names.

Pisit also suggested that the “Centre for National Anti-Corruption (CNAC) can facilitate the probe by acting as a coordinator as it is the hub of 11 anti-corruption agencies.” Some of this group and Pisit were recently part of another cover-up, finding no corruption in the military’s Rajabhakti Park, while making “commissions” acceptable.

Now to some of the names and what they say.

Isara

Isara

One name in the Panama Papers is Isara Vongkusolkit, who is chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. His response was to say that “he did not know and had noting to do with Mossack Fonseca. He was wondering how his name was mentioned on the lists.” Wondering? Really? He doesn’t remember the 2013 report?

He did admit that offshore banking and companies were necessary to avoid taxation in Thailand. He then went on to blame government for tax avoidance because it has had “high” tax rates!

The Vongkusolkit family maintains a tight set of relationships. One Chanin Vongkusolkit is a member of the Council of the Private Sector Collective Action against Corruption (CAC), which is:

an initiative by the Thai private sector to take parts in tackling corruption problem via collective action. The CAC aims to bring effective anti-corruption policy and mechanism into implementation by companies in order to create an ecosystem of clean business community.

Forbes says this of Isara and family:

To offset volatility in sugar prices, Isara Vongkusolkit’s privately held Mitr Phol Sugar, Thailand’s largest sugar producer, is expanding its energy business, which generates 400 megawatts of electricity, half for its own consumption. The company, which recently faced allegations of human rights abuses and illegal land- grabbing in Cambodia, said it was in discussions with the Cambodian government about its concessions. Brother Chanin stepped down as CEO of family’s Banpu, the country’s biggest coal miner, after running it for more than 3 decades.

Chanin remains on the Banpu Board of Directors. Others from the family on the Board are Buntoeng and Verajet Vongkusolkit. Australia’s controversial Centennial Coal Centennial is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banpu.

Banpong

Banpong

The point seems to be that Isara and his family are fabulously wealthy Sino-Thai tycoons and like their ilk everywhere, seek to “minimize” tax while claiming to engage in ethical business behavior, if that is not an oxymoron.

Another listed is “Banyong Pongpanich, chairman of Phatra Capital and a member of the State Enterprises Policy Commission, posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was taken aback that his name was on the list.” Like Isara, he claims to not know Mossack Fonseca: “I have just learned of the company today and I never contacted or did any business with Mossack Fonseca…”.

Schultz

Schultz

We are reminded of Sgt. Schultz, again and again. How many times can “I know nothing” be used?

Patra Capital is a “certified” company at the Private Sector Collective Action against Corruption and Phatra Capital promulgates a Code of Ethics for Directors, Officers and Employees. In part, it states:

By adhering to exemplary standards and conducting our business with excellence and integrity, we enhance our reputation and cultivate the growth of our business. All of us must take personal responsibility for conducting ourselves in a way that reflects positively on the Capital Market Business Group and with the letter and spirit of the Guidelines for Business Conduct.

Like many of Thailand’s tycoons, Banpong has royal links, his with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. He is also a member of the junta-created Superboard, which is said to be “overseeing all state enterprises has the stated aim of getting them all moving in the same direction towards strength and efficiency.” A Superboard of bankers, coal miners and more means endless conflicts of interest.

Both the Vongkusolkit and Pongpanich families are represented on the Board of Trustees of the royalist Thailand Development Research Institute, which has often commented on corruption and ethics in Thailand’s politics.

Bannawit

Bannawit

The last Sgt. Schultz excuse came from Admiral Bannawit Kengrien. The “former deputy defence permanent secretary, whose name is also on the lists, said this came as a surprise to him…. According to the retired officer he never conducted any business transactions overseas or given permission to anyone to use his name to set up offshore accounts.”

Bannawit has appeared previously at PPT as one of “Dad’s Army,” which was an elite forerunner to the more popular People’s Democratic Reform Committee in trying to bring down the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra. He was a member of several other yellow-shirted and royalist groups that sought to create conflict with the Yingluck government. Earlier, he was previously a member of the assembly appointed by the junta in 2006 and then caused controversy when deputy defense minister. He was not averse to very odd and racist claims when opposing red shirts.

Bannawit also seems to have conveniently forgotten the 2013 leaks from the British Virgin Islands. Or perhaps the rich and powerful expect the junta to enforce collective amnesia on the country.

Update: Khaosod has cast doubt on the Bangkok Post story, above, saying that the newspaper (and many others) confused the 2013 leak with the Panama Papers. INterestingly, whether its 2013 or now, nothing in our post would seem in need of change.





Panama papers I

5 04 2016

This Bangkok Post report on the Panama Papers is of interest. PPT is interested in these cases, but have to admit that there is simply too much data for us to handle. If we see informed reports, we will post or if readers have information, let us know.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is seeking information from its foreign counterparts regarding 21 Thai nationals reportedly included in a list of people worldwide using a Panama-based law firm for money laundering and tax evasion.

(NOTE: It is not clear how Amlo reached this number. In fact, the Panama Papers include at least 780 names of individuals and another 50 names of companies based in Thailand. Some are foreigners or foreign-owned companies. There are 634 individual addresses listed in Thailand.)

Pol Col Seehanat Prayoonrat, the acting Amlo secretary-general, made the comments following a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which cited leaked documents from law firms that have been assisting politicians and leaders worldwide — including the 21 Thai nationals — to carry out the illicit acts.

He said he has so far obtained information only from the media





Graft and lese majeste

27 11 2015

Readers will no doubt have noticed that the Army’s corruption case involving the one-billion-baht Rajabhakti Park project has predictably gone rather quiet in recent days. Cover-ups do that and cover-ups work better when there are “distractions.” A few days ago, on this “project,” PPT asked “Who got the loot?” The Army and the military dictatorship do not want to provide any answers.

But how about the lese majeste case involving two dead men, one survivor and one gone missing? How much did Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha and Col Khachachart Boondee gain by their alleged use of the royal connection?

We saw some early claims that their “fraud” involved some very big business interests. We were told that Prakrom was a kind of bag man, but we don’t know for whom. A list of supposedly ill-gotten gains was supplied:

… 26 rooms in La Maison Condominium on Soi Phahon Yothin 24. He had also paid for another four rooms worth 500,000 baht each but had not yet obtained the ownership rights…. Hundreds of thousands of baht in foreign currency, including US dollars and Japanese yen…. Several cars owned by Pol Maj Prakrom, including a Bentley, a Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota…. 10 valuable Buddha amulets [said to have]… belonged to Pol Col Akkharawut Limrat, the former chief of the Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 1 and a former member of Pongpat’s network [Pongpat Chayapan] who died after falling from a building. [Of course, this “fall” was never properly investigated.] … [T]hree guitars, including one worth more than 400,000 baht [said to “belong” to Pongpat] … [and] several Buddha images … earlier … seized from Pongpat’s network…. [M]ore than 200 radio communication devices and five signal antennae…. Six police cars which Pol Maj Prakrom had ordered for use in his work have also disappeared.

How did Prakrom get stuff seized from Pongpat? What has happened to all of this stuff now? Has it simply been recycled to someone else who looks after it, as it seems to have been from Pongpat to Prakrom?

The latest bit of news on these three men and their supposedly ill-gotten gains comes from AMLO. Buried down in the story it states: “A source said AMLO had not found any assets in Prakrom’s name but it was trying to determine whether he put his properties in the names of other people.” Ah, well, the above report seemed to say otherwise….

The report goes on to reveal that the “Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has frozen more than Bt44 million worth of assets belonging to several suspects linked to the ongoing high-profile lese-majeste case.”

That doesn’t sound to us like a huge haul. If these “suspects” were really using the royal name, then we would have guessed they’d be accumulating more than rich people’s change. About 75% of this “haul” is reported to belong to Khachachart alone.

Still AMLO declares: “We have grounds to believe these suspects violated anti-graft laws and anti-money-laundering laws…”.

As the report states, “Jirawong, Suriyan, Prakrom and Kachachart were charged with several crimes in relation to falsely citing the Royal Family for personal gain in the course of collecting donations and sponsorship.”

Based on the reports so far available, it seems that the “personal gain” was quite small in the scheme of corruption deals in Thailand. Perhaps they weren’t very good at corruption? Or perhaps the loot has already been redistributed or collected by a boss or bosses?





Updated: One man’s corruption?

8 03 2015

With the attempted murder (or something similar) of an “associate” of “disgraced former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan,” the cases surrounding Pongpat get murkier (and nastier) by the day.

As the Bangkok Post explains, “[m]ystery surrounds the abduction and assault” of Chanita Kinnis. She claims that she was abducted and when she was found her hands were tied and there was “bruising on her neck, which police believe was the result of being strangled.”

Chanita states that she was:

… abducted while on her way to the Anti-Money Laundering Office, where she had an appointment with officials. She claimed that she heard her attacker talking on a phone with somebody who, she said, ordered him to kill her. She was strangled, hit on the head and left at the golf course.

Chanita added that:

… she and her mother were associates of Pongpat, whose assets were seized by authorities after his involvement in a criminal network was uncovered. She said her assets were also frozen and she had gone to meet Amlo officials to talk about the case. She did not go into detail about her relationship with Pongpat, apart from saying that her mother had done business with him.

Provincial Police Region 1 commander Pol Lt Gen Amnuay Nimmano she was abducted, driven away and beaten and strangled in a robbery.

A mystery indeed. As is the claim that Pongpat was accumulated massive amounts of money, antiques, luxury cars, art, expensive wine, jewelry, and all kinds of baubles and toys for himself.

An AP report tells us that, some of Pongpat’s haul is to be sold in a”four-day auction that … features a small portion of the 27,000 items police say they seized from … Pongpat…”. We find it very hard to believe.

Authorities apparently express “shock over Pongpat’s misdeeds,” and yet they all knew the rumors of Pongpat operating with approval from a highly-placed influential person.

The report explains:

Pongpat’s case is interwoven with the still-mysterious estrangement of Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his third wife, the former Princess Srirasm. Pongpat is Srirasm’s uncle, and the couple’s split was publicized soon after the police scandal emerged last year. But in a country where insulting the monarchy can bring a 15-year prison sentence, nobody is asking too many questions.

Pongpat is accused “of leading a network responsible for offenses including money laundering, extortion and taking bribes from oil smugglers, illegal gambling dens and police officers seeking promotions” and of lese majete. As Col. Seehanat Prayoonrat, head of the Anti-Money Laundering Office,observes: “This is a very, very unusual case. There could not be another one like it…. It’s frightening. Surprising, how one person can do a thing like this…”.

Exactly.

Update: Police now claim that Chanita made up the story of her abduction to impress a boyfriend. Perhaps, but can anyone believe any story that has emerged from the royal housecleaning? In any case, we can only wonder that a woman connected to Pongpat would concoct a story to apparently impress a boyfriend with an AMLO fetish. The kingdom of make believe is in great form. The concoctions are probably with the police.





Believing your own messages

10 12 2011

It is important to be able to distinguish between political fiction and fact. However, when political battles extend over several years and when the means of communication have expanded so massively, so protagonists actually come to believe their own propaganda. A case in point is the extreme yellow-shirted senator Rosana Tositrakul, who is the head of a Senate committee on graft and good governance.

Rosana’s views have become more extreme over the years that she has dedicated herself to hating and opposing Thaksin Shinawatra and all associated with him. Her most recent comments on the burglary at the house of transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom. Rosana actually “expressed doubts that money seized from the arrested suspects really belonged to Mr Supoj.” Remarkably, the head of the Senate committee on graft and good governance “wondered if the money came from another source and whether the robbery was a frame-up. She also commented that the damaged party seemed to have become a suspect.”

Given that the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Anti-Money Laundering Office are investigating the case, PPT began wondering why Rosana would defend Supoj. We were equally taken aback by the Bangkok Post’s decision to call the case a “mystery” that “deepened … when a Senate panel suggested the crime was politically motivated and a frame-up.”

PPT’s ruminations led us to a series of yellow-shirt emails that claim – with no evidence at all – that Supoj was holding the money for either Thaksin or banned Thai Rak Thai Party politician Sudarat Keyuraphan. These emails have been sent all over the place. It seems clear that this is where Rosana is getting her information and, despite the lack of any evidence, she trots this stuff out.

Of course, current Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung reckons that Supoj was in bed with the culprits at the Bhum Jai Thai Party. He hasn’t produced any evidence either.

Other stories doing the rounds of the electronic mail include a claim that Supoj was done down by his secretary, who was also a long-term mistress, spurned on the orders of the major wife. But that rumor doesn’t say why Supoj had so much loot at home.

A point Chalerm made that rings true is that “not only [corrupt] government officials but also many [corrupt] politicians like to keep cash at home.” At this point, PPT would not jump for political rumors, but would point out that transport and communications are amongst the plum jobs for senior bureaucrats because they offer such lucrative opportunities for “unusual wealth.”

As permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport, chairman of the State Railways of Thailand and earlier Director of the Highways Department and also the Rural Roads Department, Supoj had several neat perch from which to seek extra income. These positions are widely known to be extremely lucrative.

It seems to us that Rosana has become a slave to her own propaganda and speculation (and perhaps Chalerm too). That slavish devotion to a political cause could cause political blindness. There might well be that there is a “normal” explanation for a bureaucrat having great and unexplained wealth.

Meanwhile, in another example of believing your own message, the Bangkok Post reports that former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban showed up at the Metropolitan Police Bureau to testify to a panel investigating the deaths of red shirt protesters in April and May 2010.

Suthep reportedly “insists security forces involved in containing red shirt protesters during last year’s political violence had performed their duties within the law.” PPT reckons that’s an easy claim to make as the emergency decree pretty much granted the authorities the right to anything they wanted.

His other claim is more controversial and has been his mantra throughout. He stated: “Security forces had performed their duties based on my orders. There was no violence while they were performing their duties.” Further, he stated categorically that “security forces had carried out their duties and their operation [on 10 April] had not caused any deaths…”. He has always claimed that security forces killed no one and that all deaths were a result of attacks by mysterious and never apprehended “men in black.”

If you say it enough it seems you come to believe it.





More on alleged funds flow

13 02 2010

The Abhisit Vejjajiva government continues to push the alleged foreign funding to the red shirts into the media (see PPT’s earlier post here). Obviously, its strategists think the claim is a winner. The problem for observers such as PPT is that there is no evidence being produced. Equally odd is the government’s acting spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn’s claim that the government has been observing this for almost three months. So why announce it now and then not show a shred of evidence.

PPT doesn’t know if there are transfers as claimed, but the government is playing this card in a way that suggests it is manufacturing a politically-motivated story.

Now – after the three months the government claims to have known of alleged transfers – the government has put the Department of Special Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Office on the job (The Nation, 13 February 2010). It has to be said that the DSI is looking increasingly like the government’s lackey organization for politicized investigations.

The report adds the curious line that these organizations have: “been instructed to probe the flow of suspicious funds by pursuing all leads, not only those politically linked.” Even more curious, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga is cited as stating: “The probe is about enforcing the Anti-Money Laundering Act in general. This may or may not have political implications…”. But it is not really curious because the government is trying to give the impression that it “was not out to fault any particular groups.”

This is pure political spin. Listen to academic-for-hire and government spinmeister Panitan and what is heard is an attack on the red shirts, even if there is no evidence. He said “huge amounts of money had been transferred to some red shirt leaders from the Middle East” (Bangkok Post, 13 February 2010). Even Pirapan can’t keep up the charade, for he adds that there will be investigations of mushrooming of pyramid schemes, on suspicion these illegal funds have been channelled to finance street protests…”. And who are the street protestors? Certainly they aren’t investigating the Democrat Party allies in the yellow-shirted PAD.

In addition, one of PPT’s favorite spin doctors is the Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks. Buranaj has long shown himself to be an enemy of human rights, free speech and several other important freedoms. He said “authorities were investigating three schemes designed to channel funds to the red shirts.” Didn’t the justice minister say they’re not “not out to fault any particular groups? Mark that down as a lie from justice minister no less.

Buranaj claims “couriers were hired to smuggle cash from border areas into the country. The suspicious funds came from casinos located nearby.” He also claims that “a group of import-export companies are suspected to have doctored their records to help move funds into the Kingdom.” Finally, he refers to “funds being moved via international wire transfer to local accounts of individuals or companies, with the records fixed to elude detection. Five businessmen are involved.” No evidence, just inflammatory accusations. Why? Buranaj also has a track record of wanting crackdowns on red shirts.








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