THAI Airways Corruption Probe Reveals Another 20 Suspects To Face Possible Graft Allegations

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The ongoing THAI Airways corruption probe which investigates wrongdoing of current and former senior managers of the airline has brought forward another 20 names that could be facing allegations of graft.

Just last week a former CEO of Thai Airways was sentenced to two years in prison (likely politically motivated) for failing to pay for a vast amount of excess baggage on a flight from Japan to Bangkok.

THAI Airways is currently undergoing the process of bankruptcy administration and has lost it’s state enterprise status as shares were shifted around in order to make this happen.

At the same time those in power at the airline and in government have opened a probe investigating how the airline was able to incur such heavy losses in recent years and suspicious activity such as contracts, aircraft purchases as well as wrongdoing by senior executives.

As The Nation reported this probe has unearthed more instances of corruption that could see 20 more people in hot water.

An investigation into corruption at Thai Airways International (THAI), which started in August, has revealed that 20 people were involved in possible graft that resulted in massive losses to the airline, said Pol Lt-General Saroj Nimjaroen, deputy head of the commission probing internal administration at THAI.

The commission will meet with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on December 14 to provide additional information regarding the investigation into the possible corruption, he said.

“We had earlier submitted investigation details to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Finance Ministry, which is THAI’s major shareholder, and the NACC president, who subsequently contacted Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam to submit additional documents relating to the investigation,” Saroj said.

“The investigation has so far revealed that there are 20 persons who were involved in corruption at THAI in six different aspects. For example, the commission found that the mechanics department had disbursed more than Bt6 million to 567 staff as overtime pay for 1,500 hours [of extra work] per year,” he said. “This will require further investigation into the reason and necessity of disbursing such a large amount as overtime pay.” …

While there was certainly a lot of shady stuff going on inside Thai Airways the matter with the mechanics overtime is just one thing. To put this in perspective:

6 Million Thai Baht are $200,000 and 1500 hours overtime represent an hourly pay of $133.30 – for a mechanic in Thailand! It would probably be more interesting to know who of these 567 staff members involved have received the lion share of these payments. My good guess is that these payments weren’t evenly distributed but that just a few individuals got most of these 6 Million Baht.

THAI is well known for it’s reputation as a personal purse for the countries dignitaries, top executives and a buddy-buddy system where everybody profits while the company runs deep into red. The year of Covid has finally pulled the rug from underneath this systems feet.

Conclusion

Unfortunately all these investigations will again be based on favoritism and connections as always in Thailand. The case of the former CEO who received a prison sentence over failing to pay for excess baggage (unlikely that he’ll ever serve a day however) is one of these things, although they probably got him for this because they couldn’t prove much worse things he did during his tenure at THAI. Similar to Mafia Kingpins who go to prison for failing to pay taxes instead of much worse crimes.

While these people deserve everything that’s coming for them it’s pretty much a given that all of these who are now taken down have fallen out of favor with the current ruling class.

THAI will return to Bankruptcy Court in January to have the next stage of their reorganization and debt restructuring approved if the creditors can come to an agreement. So far the carrier remains grounded except for some “Special Flights” as they call their repatriation flights between Thailand and Europe that I’ve covered a few times.

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