DSI probes 20 firms over suspected collusion in Thai state construction bids

Kamnan Nok, Image courtesy of TPN National Thailand News, Facebook.

A probe by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has led to questioning representatives from 20 firms involved in bidding for state construction projects. These projects were eventually won by businesses owned by Praween Chanklai, also known as Nok. The investigation focuses on the construction of two sections of Highway 375, the first linking Don Toom and Lam Luk Bua in 2017, and the second connecting Lam Luk Bua to Highway 346 in 2021.

Evidence from preliminary investigations indicates a potential collusion between Nok’s construction company and other firms, leading to manipulation in the bidding process for these projects. The spotlight was cast on Nok’s business following his involvement as a primary suspect in the fatal shooting of highway policeman Police Major Sivakorn Saibua. His firm has been successful in securing several state projects, which include road, building and bridge construction and canal dredging services in Nakhon Pathom and surrounding provinces.

In a revealing disclosure by the DSI, it was found that out of 33 firms that purchased bid envelopes for the Don Toom-Lam Luk Bua project, only four actually participated in the bidding. Similarly, for the second project, only three out of 32 firms who bought bid envelopes went on to join the bidding contest.

Pol. Capt. Surawut Rangsai, head of the DSI’s division on collusion in state projects, stated that representatives from these firms have been called in for questioning as witnesses. The remaining firms are due to meet the DSI today and tomorrow.

In response to these allegations, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul pledged to personally investigate the supposed irregularities in projects carried out by the Interior Ministry. He emphasised close scrutiny of projects that had been greenlighted despite multiple complaints.

National Police Chief, Pol. Gen. Damrongsak Kittiprapas, announced yesterday that stringent screening procedures would be implemented following the revelation of Praween’s membership in Nakhon Pathom’s provincial committee on monitoring police work.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Pathom Governor, Surasak Charoensirichote, confirmed the removal of Praween from the committee and the initiation of an investigation to determine his membership recruitment process, reported Bangkok Post.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.