Ex-TOT chief gets 20-year sentence

Ex-TOT chief gets 20-year sentence
Varut: Made unauthorised deal
Varut: Made unauthorised deal

Former TOT president Varut Suvakorn has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay about one billion baht to the state agency for an unauthorised deal with Samart I-Mobile in 2008.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases yesterday handed down its ruling in the case filed by the Office of the Attorney-General.

Mr Varut was accused of approving a compensation payment of 1.48 billion baht 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 Mr Varut approved exceeded his authority, and breached 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 2.6 billion baht plus 7.5% interest a year in damage from TOT for breach of contract.

Mr Varut approved payments totalling just over 1.48 billion baht (excluding value-added tax), far in excess of the 10-million-baht limit on what an executive in his position had the authority to authorise without seeking board approval.

The compensation payments were also more than TOT should have paid, according to the lawsuit.

A House panel estimated the sum Samart I-Mobile was entitled to was between 800 million and 1 billion baht.