By Thai Newsroom Reporters
NATIONAL PARKS, WILDLIFE & PLANT Conservation Department director-general Ratchada Suriyakul na Ayudhya was today (Dec.27) arrested on charges of extorting and accepting payoffs in cash from subordinate officials of the agency.
In a press conference following the surprise arrest of the chief of the national parks agency, National Anti-Corruption Commission secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol confirmed Ratchada had allegedly extorted and accepted kickbacks in cash from varied heads of the agency’s field units and other officials in the provinces in exchange for their not being transferred by him to any unpreferable, remote areas nationwide.
Each of the allegedly extorted officials had been told to pay 200,000 to 300,000 baht in bribe money to the department chief so they would not have been literally transferred too far from home, Niwatchai said.
Ratchada categorically denied all extortionist charges filed against him though police had produced some kickback cash purportedly handed out to him hours earlier, plus a sum of five million baht in cash found inside his office at the department’s headquarters.
Natural Resources & Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa expressed his bewilderment at the arrest of the national parks department chief on charges of extorting and accepting kickbacks from his subordinate officials.
Varawut said the accused director-general who is among senior officials under his ministerial command is definitely being brought to justice pertaining to the bribery charges lodged by the authorities against him.
Police raiding the office of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Director-General Ratchada Suriyakul Na Ayutthaya and the cash found there. Photos: Thai Rath