Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, left, alleges corruption has taken place in rail route projects. Former transport minister Sohpon Zarum, right, declares his innocence over alleged graft involving the Purple Line.
Sohpon denies rail route graft, threatens libel suit Published: 26/11/2011 at 12:00 AM
ソポン、鉄道ルートの不正利益を否定、名誉毀損訴訟をちらつかす 2011年11月26日12:00 AM バンコクポストより
Former transport minister Sohpon Zarum Friday denied involvement in alleged rail route corruption scams in the Transport Ministry under the Democrat-led coalition government. He also threatened to file a libel suit against Pheu Thai MP Pichet Chuamuangpan, who filed an interpellation motion about the burglary of permanent transport secretary Supoj Saplom's home on Nov 12, in which police said at least 100 million baht was stolen.
The motion led to a heated debate in parliament on Thursday and paved the way for Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who oversees police affairs, to link it to alleged corruption in electric rail route projects in Mr Sohpon's tenure. Mr Sohpon said Friday that Mr Chalerm's claim was a ploy to divert public attention from the controversial draft royal pardon decree and the government's alleged mishandling of the flood crisis. Mr Sophon said he had never been involved in the bidding for any electric train project. He said he would file a libel suit and civil suit against Mr Pichet. "Whatever compensation I get will be donated to charity," he said. Mr Chalerm held a news conference to respond to Mr Sohpon's comments about Mr Supoj's case.
The information, including surveillance camera footage, he had presented to the House did not come from police investigators, but from another highly reliable source, he said. "I can absolutely confirm [the money stolen in the] robbery was involved in corruption in the electric rail routes," he said. According to Mr Chalerm, the stolen money is part of a 2.3 billion baht budget to pay the valued added tax on domestic loans earlier intended to finance the Purple Line subway extension project.
However, the loan was later taken from the Japan International Cooperation Agency instead, and therefore not subject to VAT. However, the disbursed budget was not returned to the state coffers and it was provided to favoured construction firms instead. Metropolitan Police Bureau commander Winai Thongsong said police had no evidence to link the stolen cash to any alleged corruption offences. He said police will summon Mr Supoj for further questioning next week and would consider whether he intentionally gave the police a false statement. Mr Supoj earlier told police only 5 million in cash had been stolen from him and disputed that police had already reclaimed 18 million baht from the heist.