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Thailand’s NACC charges former oil executives in multi-million dollar bribery scheme

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of Thailand charges four ex-PTTEP executives with corruption and bribery in the Arthit Offshore Gas Field Project, following a global investigation linked to Rolls-Royce.



Arthit Offshore Gas Field Project

BANGKOK, THAILAND: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of Thailand has announced that four former executives of PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) have been found guilty of corruption, collusion, and bribery related to the Arthit Offshore Gas Field Project.

This case came into the spotlight after the U.S. government concluded its investigation into a global bribery scheme involving Rolls-Royce, a UK-based powerhouse in aerospace, defense, and energy sectors.

The disclosure from a deferred prosecution agreement with Rolls-Royce unveiled corrupt activities linked to the procurement of gas turbines for Thai government projects, including the PTTEP’s Arthit Project.

Mr Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, the Secretary-General of the NACC, disclosed findings from an extensive investigation into a corruption and bribery scheme that affected the Arthit Project between 2004 and 2008, involving contracts worth over US$24.6 million for the procurement of feed gas turbine compressors.

The corruption centered around PTTEP’s Vice President of the Thai Offshore Assets Division, Mr Poawpadet Vorabutr, who deliberately solicited bid proposals from unapproved vendors, including Rolls-Royce, contrary to standard procedures.

As part of the scheme, the Ad Hoc Board for Arthit Procurement, which included Mr Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith, Mr Chulasingh Vasantasingh, and Mr Anucha Sihanatkathakul, prematurely acknowledged and approved the bid results before addressing significant pending issues and observations, effectively circumventing typical procurement protocols. This early approval facilitated the direct purchase from Rolls-Royce.

Further complicating matters, during a PTTEP Board Meeting, Mr Maroot Mrigadat, then President and Secretary to the PTTEP Board, presented misleading information about the approvals. Despite the presence of Mr Kwangsukstith, Mr Vasantasingh, and Mr Sihanatkathakul, who were also aware of the actual circumstances, no corrections or objections were raised against the misleading information presented. This omission contributed to the board’s decision to proceed with the purchase from Rolls-Royce.

The investigation also uncovered that after the contract was secured, Rolls-Royce executed a transfer of approximately US$300,000 to the overseas bank accounts of close associates of Mr Vorabutr, further implicating them in the bribery aspect of the scheme.

The NACC has charged Mr Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith, Mr Anucha Sihanatkathakul, and Mr Maroot Mrigadat with corruption and collusion under multiple acts, while Mr Vorabutr faces additional charges of bribery.

The case against Mr Chulasingh Vasantasingh was dismissed following his passing.

The commission is now forwarding its findings to the Attorney-General for prosecution and has called for the confiscation of the US$300,000 in bribes, emphasizing the NACC’s commitment to combating transnational bribery and corruption.

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