The day of reckoning has arrived for Suphoth Sublom as the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) prepares for a hearing today, now that its subpanel has handed over the results of its investigation.
NACC deputy chief Worawit Sukboon, who led the subpanel, said there could be three possible results from the hearing on the former Transport permanent secretary’s allegedly unusual wealth.
On the other hand, if the allegations are proved to be correct, then Suphoth’s assets could be either partially or completely confiscated depending on the hearing, he added.
The investigation was ordered after Suphoth’s mansion in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao area was burgled last year.
He insisted that the burglars only made off with Bt5 million, though police ended up retrieving about Bt18 million from the suspected robbers, who said that they had seen hundreds of millions of baht in cash at the house. The NACC has frozen the Bt18 million found by the police.
This enormous sum of money raised questions about Suphoth’s wealth, as authorities decided to launch separate investigations into corruption allegations as well as the filing of a false report on his assets.
When Worawit was asked yesterday if Suphoth could provide more explanations about his unusual wealth, the deputy NACC chief said no, adding that the former civil servant had already been given a chance to defend himself.
He also insisted that Suphoth’s resignation from his post at the Transport Ministry on Monday would not affect the investigation because the subpanel had already completed interrogating relevant parties and gathering evidence related to his alleged unusual wealth.
As for the investigation into Suphoth’s false declaration of assets and corruption allegations, the panel should have the results by the end of August, Worawit said.
Meanwhile, yesterday Suphoth dismissed speculation that he was trying to escape accountability, saying he had quit his post because he did not want to create problems at the ministry.
“I just want the work at the Transport Ministry to proceed without any hindrance because I don’t know when my legal troubles will end,” he said.
Should the NACC decide to prosecute Suphoth for ill-gotten gains, his exit from the civil service would mean he will face graft proceedings but not disciplinary punishment, which would have led to his dismissal without pension and other benefits.
NACC member Klanarong Chantik said if Suphoth does get prosecuted, the verdict would only end with the seizure of his assets. This seizure will only cover assets whose acquisition the defence cannot justify.
As for filing a false-asset statement, Suphoth could face a jail term of up to
six months or a fine of up to Bt10,000 or both.