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Graft commissions targeting corrupt officials, land thieves

The government escalated its war on graft last week when the National Anti-Corruption Commission prepared two lists of allegedly corrupt government officials for review and possible action by a committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, with Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya vowing to punish and take legal measures against any officials if the evidence is sufficient. 
 
“Anyone who has committed wrongdoing should know they are now in the hot seat,'” said Sansern Poljeak, Secretary-General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). 
 
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made fighting corruption one of the cornerstone policies of his administration and has said there will be zero tolerance for graft among government officials.  Among recent actions taken have been investigations and crackdowns on influential figures for illegally obtaining protected forestland and developing it for personal profit.
 
The NACC’s first list contained the names of over 100 officials that investigators believe are involved in corruption, according to the Commission’s evidence, but Sansern did not release a figure for how many names are on the second list, which is still being prepared and is expected to be forwarded in a matter of days.
 
The lists are being submitted to the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), which focuses more narrowly on corrupt officials as opposed to the broader work of the NACC.  Prime Minister Prayut chairs the PACC, but Justice Minister Paiboon will vet the lists before the entire Commission considers them.
 
Sansern declined to reveal any of the names on the list, but told reporters that it contained high-ranking officials.  Paiboon and his colleagues will review the evidence against the officials, verify the facts in each case, remove any officials from the lists if evidence against them is deemed insufficient, and send the final lists to the Prime Minister.
 
Sansern said that the NACC had already sent evidence to other law enforcement agencies and requested they take move against the suspected officials, but the agencies failed to do so.  Consequently, the NACC decided to send the lists to the PACC.
 
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) is filing charges against the owners of Bonanza, a huge resort that includes a racetrack in Nakhon Ratchasima province, because the agency said much of the resort is on protected land.  ALRO officials said they are examining land ownership documents of celebrities and businessmen who hold nearly 20,000 acres of land in Nakhorn Ratchasima province to ensure they obtained it legally.
 
ALRO said most of this land was sold to wealthy people by private companies or villagers, but the land is part of protected forest and the title deeds permitted the companies and villagers to use the land but not to sell it.  Many of the plots have been developed into luxury homes and golf courses.
 
The Bonanza resort is owned by a well-known figure in the Red Shirt political mass movement, and the charges against him were criticized as being politically motivated.  But last week ALRO said it was also investigating the Kirimaya resort, which is owned by a figure in the opposing Yellow Shirt movement.
 
See the original article at Thailand Focus

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