One of the two prosecutors was the Chief of the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s office at the time.
NACC spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol announced the news following a meeting at the NACC headquarters in Bangkok on Monday (Dec 21).
Mr Niwatchai named the two prosecutors as Thamma ‘Chinchot’ Sornjai and Wanchat Chunhathanom.
Mr Thamma held the position of ‘Expert Prosecutor’ at the Office of Public Prosecution Region 8 and Chief of Phuket Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office at the time, Mr Niwatchai said.
Mr Wanchat was Provincial Prosecutor under the Office of the Attorney General Phuket Provincial Attorney’s Office, he added.
The NACC had conducted its own investigation and found that the allegations of corruption dated back to 2013, when an officer of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) filed a complaint to Tha Chatchai Police to charge the board members of a private company for encroaching on a protected forest area.
After completing their own investigation, police agreed with the complaint to charge two suspects – who Mr Niwatchai did not name – and passed the case to the Chief of the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s Office to consider for proceeding with legal action.
The company board members appealed to the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s Office for “fairness in considering legal action”, so the case was handed over to the Chief of the Office of Public Prosecution Region 8, Mr Niwatchai explained.
The Public Prosecutor Region 8 Chief ordered that the company board members not face legal action and passed the case to the Commander of the Region 8 Police, who did not agree with the order to not charge the suspects, he said.
With all the parties already involved in deciding whether or not to proceed with charging the suspects, the case was finally handed over to the Office of Attorney General to give the final decision on whether or not the suspects would be charged, he added.
The Attorney General noted that the District Chief was the head of the investigation team for the case, and hence the investigation was under the control of Phuket Governor’s Office.
“So the case was sent back to the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s Office on June 28 last year ,” Mr Niwatchai said.
The Phuket Public Prosecutor’s Office presented the case to the Phuket Governor, who at the time was Phakaphong Tavipatana.
“On July 1 [last year], Mr Thamma as Chief of the Phuket Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the prosecutor who used to take care of this case to make an appointment with the company representative to come and see him at his office on July 2,” Mr Niwatchai said.
Also present at the meeting was Wanchat Chunhathanom, he added.
Mr Thamma had offered the company representatives that he would persuade the Phuket Governor to not charge their company. He then met with the company representatives many times and asked for money, Mr Niwatchai said.
“The NACC already checked the case information and considers that Mr Thamma was guilty of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, wrongful exercise of duties, and Section 201, acceptance of a bribe, and Section 83, a breach of principles expected of an official,” Mr Niwatchai said.
Mr Niwatchai also pointed out that under anti-corruption laws, any accomplice found guilty of assisting to facilitate the act of corruption stood to face the same charges, and the same penalties, as the person found guilty of the actual act of being corrupt.
“The NACC will send all documents and evidence from our investigation in this case to the Office of Attorney General to work on proceeding with legal action under the Organic Act on Anti-Corruption B.E. 2561 against Mr Thamma and Mr Wanchat,” Mr Niwatchai said.