Money-laundering case against Khlong Dan contractor

Construction News

Money-laundering case against Khlong Dan contractor

The nearly completed multi-billion-baht wastewater treatment facility in tambon Khlong Dan of Samut Prakan’s Bang Bo district has been neglected for 13 years due to corruption scandal.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will prosecute the NVPSKG joint venture, the contractor of the 24-billion-baht Khlong Dan wastewater treatment project, for alleged money-laundering.

On Friday, the DSI agreed with the prosecution proposal recommended by the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), which earlier resolved to confiscate assets involved in the project.

DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said the Criminal Court earlier ruled that the group of companies and some government officials had been involved in the corruption, which led to the joint venture’s demand of multi-billion-baht compensation from the state.

Withaya Nititham, Amlo’s legal affairs director, said the Amlo board resolved on Thursday to seize about 6 billion baht that the state had been ordered to pay the joint venture in the last two of the three instalments of the compensation.

The board earlier reached a similar resolution for the first instalment of nearly 4 billon baht that the joint venture had received and the Amlo intended to reclaim all corruption-related money, he said. He estimated the project cost the country about 30 billion baht in damages.

The cabinet in November approved the compensation payment after the Supreme Administrative Court in 2014 supported an arbitration ruling that the government owed NVPSKG money because the project was scrapped in 2003 by the Thaksin Shinawatra government, which uncovered the corruption. The facility was mostly constructed by then.

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

Prayoonvisava Engineering was founded by the father of former minister of science, technology and environment Suwat Liptapanlop, who proposed the project during the Chuan Leekpai government in 1995.

The wastewater treatment project was planned for the industrial Samut Prakan province but its location in tambon Khlong Dan of Bo district was viewed too far from the industrial zone.

Former deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame was found to have been involved in the illegal acquisition of 1,900 rai of land sold to the project at a high price. He had jumped bail and fled before the Supreme Court sentenced him in 2008 to 10 years in prison.