NACC member Witthaya Arkhompitak said that the anti-graft agency’s foreign affairs office was aware of the issue and it will work with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to gather all the information about the case before sending it to the NACC members for examination, Mr Witthaya said.
The statute of limitations on the case has not yet expired, he insisted The indictment against Rolls Royce contains pages of company statements and records of bribes in Thailand. They began in 1991, when the military regime headed by Gen Suchinda Krapayoon was in power, and continued all the way until after the coup that ousted the Thaksin government in 2006, the documents allege.
THAI president Charamporn Jotikasthira said yesterday (Jan 18) that the board decided to set up a committee to establish the facts.
He said the initial information is enough for the panel to identify individuals who were involved in the acquisition process.
The airline will cooperate closely with the firm in its inquiry which is expected to be wrapped up in 30 days, he said.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told the airline to launch the investigation and clarify the questions as soon as possible.
“THAI is taking the issue seriously and we’re committed to ensuring a transparent, corruption-free enterprise,” he said.
The SFO revealed 12 counts of the firm’s conspiracy to corrupt or failure to prevent bribery in seven countries – Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, Nigeria, China and Malaysia.
The case involved bribery in Thailand for the purchase of engines for THAI’s aircraft, but officials said that no Thai complaint was filed.
According to the statement of facts prepared pursuant in the British court, the period of the scandal dates from 1991-2005 and involves a US$36.38 million (B1.28 billion) payment to “regional intermediaries” and some of the money was for individuals who were “agents of the State of Thailand and employees of THAI Airways”.
The conspiracy to corrupt involved the purchase by THAI of Rolls-Royce’s Trent 800 (T800) engines, according to the document.
The scandal occurred during three periods of time. Between June 1, 1991 and June 30, 1992 when THAI placed an order for six Boeing 777 aircraft which was later increased to eight. Rolls-Royce agreed to pay $18.8mn (B665mn) to the intermediaries during the period to “influence the purchasing decision”.
The second period was between March 1, 1992 and March 31, 1997 when Rolls-Royce agreed to pay $10.38mn (B367mn) to the intermediaries and some of the money went to THAI employees, in particular, “those individuals who were expected to act in Rolls-Royce's favour” with respect to a second purchase by Thai of T800 engines. At the time, THAI made a second purchase of six Boeing 777 aircraft, according to the document.
The third period was between April 1, 2004 and Feb 28, 2005. Rolls-Royce agreed to pay almost $7.2 million (B254mn) to the intermediaries.
“A proportion of these monies was intended for individuals who were agents of the State of Thailand or THAI employees and those individuals were expected to act in Rolls-Royce’s favour with respect to a third purchase by THAI of T800 engines,” said the document.
At the time, a third order of Boeing 777 aircraft by THAI had been under discussion as early as 1996. The order did not materialise until late 2004. Rolls-Royce again ensured that significant sums of money were available to its intermediaries for which it is inferred that this was to persuade THAI to purchase further aircraft with T800 engines.
THAI had five presidents during these periods. They were ACM Weera Kitchathorn, Pol Lt Chatchai Boonya-anand, Thammanoon Wanglee, Pisith Kusalasaiyanond and Kanok Abhiradee.
According to THAI sources, Rolls-Royce’s Trent engines have had a strong presence in THAI Airways’ fleet since the early 2000s with nearly all the newer generation of jetliners powered by the British-made engines.
The THAI aircraft currently powered by Trent engines include 15 Airbus 330s, two Airbus 350 XWBs, 18 Boeing 777s in the versions of -200, -200ER and -300, six Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and six Airbus 380 double-decker superjumbos.
A good part of the Trent engines was purchased by THAI after the scandal period (1991-2005).
Hugh Vanijprabha, managing director of Rolls-Royce (Thailand) Ltd, said, “The past practices that have been uncovered do not reflect the matter in which Rolls-Royce does business today.
“We now conduct ourselves in a fundamentally different way.
“We have zero tolerance of business misconduct of any sort. We will come out of this episode as a more trusted, resilient and better managed business that ‘wins right’ every time. Our underlying technologies and skills are as strong as ever.”
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