Varawut takes National Parks corruption flack

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said yesterday that he would ensure justice is done in the national parks corruption investigation that has threatened to consume his department.

Varawut apologised and accepted responsibility for the alleged corruption committed by Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya, saying the investigating committee would speak to all directors and related personnel, without any interference from the ministry.

Thai National Parks chief arrested for taking bribe - Pattaya Mail
At Rutchada’s office in Bangkok, police seized 5 million baht (US$150,000) in cash.

Varawut said…

“I would like to apologise for this case which could jeopardise the enthusiasm of other state officials who have made so many sacrifices to carry out their duties. Of course, I cannot deny we as a ministry must be held responsible, so I will keep the public updated on the results.

“Executives often have to deal with problems caused by those who don’t follow the rules. This act was committed by one individual, which made it very difficult to foresee.”

Police caught Rutchada accepting a bribe at his office in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district last week and seized 5 million baht (US$150,000) in cash. The investigation into national parks corruption began after the former superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park, Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, accused him of abusing his authority by transferring civil servants to undesirable locations unless they paid a bribe of up to 1 million baht.

Rutchada is also accused of collecting tea money from the directors of various conservation areas, calculating the fee based on their allocated budgets. Rutchada allegedly took hefty cuts from budgets allocated to operating costs as well as budgets allocated to forest fire protection units.

When police led by anti-corruption division commander Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew arrested Rutchada, they found an envelope containing 98,000 baht (US$2,800) that they had planted as part of a sting operation, as well as 4.9 million baht in his safe.

A Nature Lover's Guide to Thailand's Kaeng Krachan
Kaeng Krachan National Park is one of the undesirable locations staff ended up, unless they paid up to 1 million baht.

His arrest came after Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former head of parks in Phetchaburi, filed a complaint, accusing him of abusing his authority in transferring officials who refused to pay him to positions far away from their home provinces.

He was also accused of transferring money from the department’s budget into his pocket.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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