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"Panel hears Bangkok airport ignored legal advice on CTX deal"

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Panel hears NBIA ignored legal advice on CTX deal 
Thailand - The Bangkok Post

New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA) was yesterday found to have
ignored remarks by the Attorney-General's Office (OAG) about its
controversial plan to buy explosives-detection machines from the US for use
at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Testifying before an extra Senate committee investigating the CTX payoff
allegations in parliament, OAG legal counsel Wirapol Panuboot said NBIA had
ignored remarks made last year by his agency involving the price of the
detection devices, detailed terms of payment to ITO JV, a giant contractor
awarded the mega-million procurement project, and other legal matters.

The Senate panel had summoned OAG officials to testify following allegations
GE InVision Inc, the manufacturer of the CTX 9000 machines, had offered
bribes to officials of ``a political party'' and the government in Thailand
to influence the sale of its machines.

Mr Wirapol said NBIA had not even produced to the OAG a dozen subcontracts
involving the procurement and integration of the machines, though the agency
had called for a more scrupulous reading of the contract between the airport
firm and ITO JV, the consortium led by ItalianThai Development Co.

``The word CTX was not even shown in the contract. Detailed terms of
procurement and payment had raised doubts ...We sent our remarks to NBIA on
March 10, 2004, only to see the contract signed two days later,'' said the
OAG counsel.

Attapol Yaisawang, chief of the OAG's Special Investigation Division,
suggested the senators file a lawsuit against NBIA so the Department of
Special Investigation can launch a probe into the CTX deal, especially
possible misconduct of top executives of NBIA and the contractor.

Nevertheless, the matter would be treated as a civil case and not a criminal
one, making it difficult for the authorities to take prompt action against
any wrongdoers, Mr Attapol said.

Senate committee chairman Pol Gen Prathin Santiprapop said he will consider
asking Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to see to it that the OAG will be
empowered to screen and supervise all legal procedures involving procurement
of goods and employment of firms in the future.

The senator said that his panel will make its conclusions on the CTX scandal
next week.

The Democrat-led opposition MPs are scheduled to grill Transport Minister
Suriya Jungrungruangkit in a censure debate about the CTX deal on Monday.
The Thai Rak Thai cabinet member earlier said he had found no officials were
involved in illegal payoffs. 

Neither was the price of the US-made machines considered ``too expensive'',
according to Mr Suriya.

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