Former Bangkok governor ready to fight alleged corruption charges

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BANGKOK, July 26 – Former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin, now running for the post of secretary-general of the Democrat Party, on Tuesday pledged his innocence over charges of alleged corruption in connection with the purchase of fire trucks and boats, saying he is ready to fight the case in court.

Mr Apirak told a news conference after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions against him and other former ministers for malfeasance and bid rigging regarding fire truck and boat procurement amounting to nearly Bt6.7 billion.

Mr Apirak explained that the controversial contract to buy the equipment was signed Aug 27, 2003, leading to the signing of a letter of credit with Krung Thai Bank as required in a Memorandum of Understanding signed before he took the governorship.

“The now-disbanded Assets Examination Committee (AEC) earlier ruled that my action was not considered corruption and then forwarded the case to the NACC for further consideration as its term had expired”, the former governor said.

“But as the anti-graft agency decided to file charges again, I am ready to fight in court,” Mr Apirak asserted.

Mr Apirak said he has assigned Bandit Siriphan to lead his legal team to fight the case.

The former governor insisted that the NACC move has no impact on the selection process which the Democrat Party set to vote for its new leader and secretary-general on August 6.

“This happened long time ago and I already took responsibility by resigning from the governorship, the action in which I consider as enough,” said Mr Apirak. “I am confident of my innocence and believe that I will be treated fairly.”

In 2008, the NACC unanimously voted Mr Apirak — together with former prime minister Samak Sundaravej and nine others — guilty of wrongdoing and violating the criminal code in the so-called scandalous purchase in which the AEC earlier charged that the purchase of fire trucks and boats from Austria’s Steyr Daimler Puch Co had caused the state to lose more than Bt1.9 billion.

However, the Office of the Attorney-General advised that only some, not all of them, should be indicted, and that Mr Apirak himself should not be indicted.

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