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20 more people suspected of being involved in corruption at Thai Airways

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Thai PBS World

20 people are suspected of corruption and mismanagement within the national airline that led to massive losses for Thai Airways International. The news, announced by police and deputy head of the commission investigating the airline, Saroj Nimaroen, comes as little surprise to anyone who has been following the demise of Thailand’s legacy airline over the past decade. The airline is tackling a debt of around 300 billion baht.

The story follows many other tales of corruption and bad deals that have been part of a larger puzzle that is now being unraveled by accounts and committees who are handling the airlines’ bankruptcy. You can read other stories about alleged corruption in Thai Airways HERE and HERE and HERE.

So far, 20 people are suspected of corruption in 6 different aspects of the company’s management, according to Saroj. One is excessive overtime pay for the airline’s mechanics department. He says the department disbursed more than 6 million baht to 567 staff members as overtime pay for 1,500 hours per year.

“This will require further investigation into the reason and necessity of disbursing such a large amount as overtime pay.”

The investigation into alleged corruption at the airline started in August. In September, 18 documents showing evidence of corruption and mismanagement at the airline was submitted to the Finance Ministry, which is a major shareholder for Thai Airways.

Along with excessive overtime pay, earlier reports say sellers of discounted tickets at the airline were given incentives based on numbers sold, not on the value of the tickets or any sales deficit. This practice of selling discounted tickets to agents cost the airline billions of baht each year, according to the head of the corruption panel, Komkit Wongsomboon.

Also, the airline’s decision to buy 10 Airbus A340 aircraft for 100 billion baht in 2004 was catastrophic. With the increase in maintenance costs, the airline lost money on all 10 airplanes. All but 1 of them have been decommissioned and stored at the U-Tapao airport.

The investigation panel will meet with the National Anti-Corruption Commission on December 14. Along with providing additional information about the alleged corruption at Thai Airways, Saroj says he will submit a list of people suspected of being involved in corruption.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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