The Interrogation of 20 Firms Involved in Bidding
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has begun questioning representatives from 20 firms that participated in bidding for state projects. These projects were ultimately won by companies owned by Praween Chanklai, also known as Kamnak Nok. The DSI aims to uncover any potential collusion and manipulation in the bidding process.
Focus on Highway 375 Construction Projects
DSI’s investigation is centered around the bidding for the construction of two sections of Highway 375. The first section, which links Don Toom and Lam Luk Bua, was bid on in 2017. The second section, connecting Lam Luk Bua with Highway 346, was bid on in 2021. Initial findings suggest that Mr. Praween’s construction company may have colluded with other firms to manipulate the bidding process for both projects.
Connection to Fatal Shooting
The investigation into Mr. Praween’s construction business began after he became a key suspect in the fatal shooting of highway policeman Pol Maj Sivakorn Saibua. The incident occurred at a dinner party held at Mr. Praween’s house in Nakhon Pathom. Praween’s firm has won numerous road, building, and bridge construction projects and has provided canal dredging services in Nakhon Pathom and several neighboring provinces.
Oddities in the Bidding Process
According to the DSI, 33 firms purchased bid envelopes for the Don Toom-Lam Luk Bua project, but only four participated in the bidding. Similarly, 32 firms bought bid envelopes for the Lam Luk Bua-Highway 346 project, but only three joined the bidding contest. Pol Capt Surawut Rangsai, director of the DSI’s division on collusion in state projects, stated that these firms were summoned for questioning as witnesses. The remaining firms are scheduled to meet with the DSI in the coming days.
Interior Minister’s Involvement
Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has vowed to personally investigate the alleged irregularities in projects carried out by the Interior Ministry. He plans to pay special attention to projects that proceeded despite numerous complaints. In addition, National police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas announced that strict screening would be implemented after it was revealed that Mr. Praween was a member of Nakhon Pathom’s provincial committee on monitoring police work.
Removal from Provincial Committee
Nakhon Pathom governor Surasak Charoensirichote has confirmed that Mr. Praween has been removed from the committee, and an investigation is underway to determine how he became a member in the first place.
KEYWORDS: collusion, bidding, influential, police, murder