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Billion Baht Prison Project Prompts Suspicions of Graft

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Thailand’s Justice Minister has ordered a detailed probe into a 1.188-billion-baht prison project. The probe follows a complaint about alleged irregularities, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin told Thai Media.

Thanakrit Chit-arirat, the minister’s secretary, was assigned to look into the issue after a company questioned a Corrections Department plan to build four new prisons. Including one in Nakhon Nayok’s Ongkharak district, according to a Justice Ministry source.

The department held an e-auction for the prison project in Nakhon Nayok on May 24. It announced the bidding result three days later.

The winning prison project bidder won the competition by offering to build the prison facility for 1.188 billion baht. Slightly lower than the median price of 1.189 billion.

However, the source said, the company complained the terms of reference for security systems in the four construction prison projects might have been written to benefit certain other bidders.

The accusation prompted Mr Thanakrit to ask the justice permanent secretary, Wisit Wisitsora-at, to explain how the bidding was arranged. He also demanded details on the specifications of a security camera system, which the winning firm questioned.

“If the alleged irregularities are proven, the project may be halted in order to call a new round of bidding.” the source told the Bangkok Post.

The prison in Nakhon Nayok hit trouble when the site was found to sit on forest land.

The new prison project site is now situated on 120 rai of land in Ongkharak district. The land is also situated near the Provincial Court in Nakhon Nayok.