The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases handed down its ruling on Thursday (Mar 16) in the case filed by the Office of the Attorney-General, reports the Bangkok Post.
Mr Varut was accused of approving a compensation payment of B1.48bn to Samart I-Mobile Plc during negotiations in 2008 to settle a dispute with the company over expenses incurred while providing services for Thai Mobile.
The wholly owned subsidiary of Samart Corporation handled the call centres, customer service and marketing for the mobile business owned by TOT and its sibling state enterprise CAT Telecom. The two have since been merged into a single state enterprise, National Telecom.
The payment approved by Mr Varut exceeded his authority, a breach of the Offences of Officials in State Organisations or Agencies Act, the court ruled.
According to the suit, between April 30 and Oct 13, 2008, the TOT board had assigned Mr Varut to hold talks with Samart I-Mobile over the latter’s Civil Court suit demanding B2.6bn plus 7.5% interest a year in damage from TOT for breach of contract.
Mr Varut approved payments totalling B1.485bn (excluding value-added tax), far in excess of the B10-million limit on what an executive in his position had the authority to authorise without seeking board approval.
The compensation payments were also more than what TOT should have had to pay, according to the lawsuit. A House committee subsequently estimated that the sum to which Samart I-Mobile was entitled was between B800mn and B1bn.
The defendant’s action was tantamount to fraudulent use of power while on duty, said prosecutors, who put the damages to TOT at B525.37mn.
Mr Varut denied the allegations, insisting that he had the authority to approve the payments that were made.
After examining evidence from both sides, the court ruled that the defendant’s testimony and evidence carried no weight to refute the plaintiff’s evidence. The court found the defendant guilty of abusing his authority and dereliction of duty that caused damage to the state telecom agency.
The court sentenced the defendant to 20 years in jail and ordered him to pay compensation totalling B1.06bn, with interest at 5% per year on the principal amount of B525.37mn, from Dec 15, 2022, to TOT or National Telecom, which filed the suit.
JohnC | 18 March 2023 - 09:46:27