Nothing wrong with PM’s nephew winning army contracts, Thai minister says

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THAILAND’S Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan on Wednesday defended Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s brother General Preecha, who has been corruptly linked to several construction projects involving his son and wife.

General Prawit said there was nothing wrong with Pathompol – Preecha’s son and PM Prayut’s nephew – securing BHT26.9 million baht (US$773,555) worth of construction projects, the Nation reported.

“Anyone can place a bid. There is no rule to ban Preecha’s son from bidding for the contracts as long as he proposed the lowest price and the right specifications to meet the requirements of the Third Army Area,” Prawit was quoted as saying.

Prawit said public doubt about the contract was normal due to the Chan-ocha surname, adding he did not think the army’s reputation would be severely affected by the allegations.

SEE ALSO: Thailand: PM’s brother accused of graft over contracts linked to son, wife

Preecha, who is also the defence ministry’s permanent secretary, has been accused of abusing his position to help his son win two military contracts. It has also been alleged that he had corruptly used state resources and assets to construct a dike named after his wife, Pongphan.

There are also claims that an army aircraft was used to transport a delegation which included Pongphan to the opening ceremony of the dike in Chiang Mai on Sept 12.

Prachatai had reported that Contemporary Construction Pub. Co. Ltd., a construction company partially owned by Pathompol, was granted contracts for two construction projects from the Thai Army in March 2015 and April 2016.

The first project, according to the independent Thai news site (via Isara news), was the construction of a building for the 3rd Army Division in Phetchabun Province costing some BHT13.68 million (US$393,504).

The second was to build a residential compound in the hospital of Fort Wachiraprakan in the Tak Province worth some BHT13.28 million (US$381,971).

Pathomphon is said to own 33.33 per cent of shares in the company.

However, Preecha has since maintained that there was no wrongdoing on his part and has welcomed investigations.

He has also said that the budget for construction of the dike came from the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence and had cost a mere BHT7,800 (US$225).

“Soldiers and villagers helped construct the dike. The name ‘Mae Pongphan Development’ dike was given by the villagers,” he said.

Report shared by Asian Correspondent