Attempts to seize B29bn from Khlong Dan wastewater project

Construction News

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) plans to seize 29 billion baht in assets from the corruption-plagued Khlong Dan wastewater treatment project in Samut Prakan province.

Acting Amlo secretary-general Seehanat Prayoonrat said on Wednesday officials initially resolved to freeze 5.89 billion baht owed to the contractor, NVPSKG joint venture, before it is handed over.

The sum is part of the 9.86-billion-baht in compensation that the Pollution Control Department, the project owner, had been ordered to pay the developer. The payment had been divided into three rounds. The department paid the first instalment of 3.97 billion baht last November.

The remainder of 5.89 billion baht had been scheduled for payment on May 21 and Nov 21, Pol Col Seehanat said.
The cabinet in November approved the compensation payment after the Supreme Administrative Court in 2014 supported an arbitration ruling that the state owed NVPSKG money because the project was scrapped in 2003 by the Thaksin Shinawatra government which uncovered corruption. The facility was mostly constructed by then.

Pol Col Seehanat said the Criminal Court ruled on Dec 17 that former deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame and former executives of the Pollution Control Department had decided in favour of NVPSKG in a move that involved corruption.

“The facts show that the Khlong Dan project contract resulted from corrupt government officials who conspired with the joint venture. Therefore, the contract is contrary to public order and must be void according to Section 150 of the Civil and Commercial Code,” he said.

Amlo also resolved to reclaim the first compensation payment of 3.97 billion baht and the previous construction payment of 20 billion baht, Pol Col Seehanat said.

Justice Minister Paiboon Khoomchaya said on Wednesday that the reclamation of the first compensation lot and the 20-billion-baht would wait until the criminal lawsuit was finalised.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission sent information on the corruption to Amlo on April 27, and on the same day the Office of the Auditor General asked Amlo to freeze money involved in the corruption, Pol Col Seehanat said.

Former minister of science, technology and environment Suwat Liptapanlop proposed the Khlong Dan wastewater treatment project during the Chuan Leekpai government in 1995.

Former executives of the Pollution Control Department, then under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, were found guilty of changing the project’s specifications to favour the contractor.

Vatana was found to be involved in the illegal acquisition of 1,900-rai of land in tambon Khlong Dan of Bang Bo district, Samut Prakan, which was sold to the project at a high price.

NVPSKG consisted of North West Water International Ltd, Vichitbhan Construction Co Ltd, Prayoonvisava Engineering Co Ltd (related to Mr Suwat), See Sang Karn Yotah (1979), Krung Thon Engineers Co Ltd and Gateway Development Co.

The 23.7-billion-baht project had been planned to treat wastewater, but the Samut Prakan location was criticised as being unsuitable because it is far from factories in the province and discharge could affect coastal marine resources.