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Thai officials accused of corruption in airport biometrics procurement

Thai officials accused of corruption in airport biometrics procurement

The former national police chief of Thailand has been charged along with two senior police officials over allegations of corruption involving an airport biometrics contract, according to state-owned publication Thai PBS.

Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda has been charged in relation to a contract for face and fingerprint biometrics at Thai airports, worth 2.1 billion Thai baht (US$61 million), won by Thai company MSC Sittipol. Following this, Dermalog acted as a subcontractor.

The Thailand National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) brought the charges, alleging the trio extended a delivery deadline for biometric equipment to benefit the company. The deadline was originally set for May 2, 2019, but the deadline was changed to the end of June, and the system went live in July at roughly 70 immigration checkpoints.

Police Lieutenant General Surachat Hakparn, who was immigration police commissioner at the time, requested Chakthip cancel the project, and filed a complaint with the NACC, according to the report. He also claims an attempt was made to assassinate him early in 2019, even before the original contract deadline, and that it was related to the contract dispute.

He said at the time that the biometric system was not efficient and the contract process insufficiently transparent, drawing a response, as reported by Biometric Update, from one of the other individuals who has now been charged.

“The biometrics system helps lift the nation’s immigration office to an international level, Pol. Lt. Gen Surachet should not bring in the biometrics system into his own personal conflicts,” said Major General Surapong Chaijan of the Immigration Police, one of the two other officials charged. “Officials from other government sectors have evaluated whether the biometrics system really works. Confirmations show that the system is efficient.”

The NACC also filed charges against Chakthip and dozens of other defendants over a contract for smart police cars.

This post was updated at 9:27am Eastern on August 1, 2023 to clarify details of the public contract.

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