BANGKOK – Thailand’s junta is under growing pressure to investigate corruption claims that have emerged from the bribery scandal at Britain’s Rolls-Royce and embroiled two high-profile state-controlled companies in the south-east Asian kingdom.
Prosecutors in the US and UK claim representatives of Rolls-Royce made illicit payments over more than 20 years to officials linked to the Thai government, Thai Airways International and energy group PTT.
According to the Financial Times, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office alleged last week that Rolls-Royce representatives had paid more than $36m to intermediaries on three deals for Thai Airways to buy engines, in 1991-92, 1992-97 and 2004-05.
The case is particularly sensitive for the generals in Bangkok because Thai Airways has longstanding links with the air force and some of the allegations relate to a period when the military was in power.
Thailand was under a thinly disguised military government led by a general and former coup leader at the time of the 1991-92 deal.
Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission said it had launched an initial examination of the case and would seek information from British authorities. But the government’s position remains unclear and officials did not respond to requests for clarification.
Thai Airways said it had set up a task force to investigate the corruption allegations.
In the separate US action against Rolls-Royce, the Department of Justice claimed that the company had paid more than $11m in corrupt commissions, knowing part of these would be used to bribe officials at PTT and its subsidiary PTTEP.
PTT said it had set up a committee to examine the claims and report back to the board within 30 days. It stressed its commitment to transparency and good corporate governance.
Thai Airways numbers three air chief marshals among its directors, according to its website. PTT lists a general and an air marshal on its board.
Source: Financial Times