MP not in ‘bribe gang’, insists party

MP not in 'bribe gang', insists party

Chartthaipattana gets behind Praphat

MP not in 'bribe gang', insists party
Praphat Phothasuthon (photo: Charthaipattana Party)

The Chartthaipattana Party on Tuesday denied a rumour that one of its members was a member of an extortion gang, said to have been led by serial anti-corruption complainant Srisuwan Janya.

Mr Srisuwan, 56, was arrested on Friday for allegedly demanding 3 million baht from Natthakit Khongthip, director-general of the Rice Department.

As the investigation into the extortion gang grew, more figures were rumoured to have been involved with the gang’s activities, including a politician with a Thai initial character, Por, who was said to be a former administrator in the Agricultural and Cooperatives Ministry.

Praphat Phothasuthon, a former deputy agricultural minister whose name started with the initial Por, was one of the names floated as a behind-the-scenes group member.

Mr Praphat, who currently holds the position of Charthaipattana Party secretary-general, was not present at the party’s weekly meeting on Tuesday.

Instead, the party leader, Varawut Silpa-archa, told the media that he had initially talked with Mr Praphat regarding the rumour prior to the meeting, and Mr Praphat had denied all allegations.

Mr Praphat was the deputy minister for agriculture and cooperatives during Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration.

Mr Varawut said that as the party believed in a quick yet transparent operation processes, it had to be the member in question who had to speak out about the rumour.

This was particularly true for Mr Praphat, who has continually been the subject of similar allegations in the past.

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow, said the department had received 1.5 billion baht for rice strain improvement last year.

However, that was later redirected into rice subsidies, and the department did not spend a single baht.

Mr Natthakit backed up Capt Thamanat’s clarification, saying that Mr Thanadol just wanted to join him in negotiating with Mr Srisuwan about the case suspension.

Regarding the investigation, Pol Maj Gen Charoonkiat Pankaeo, the Central Investigation Bureau deputy commissioner, is expected to invite more witnesses for questioning, as more extortion claims have been made against the gang.