Late last year a gang of thieves broke into the house of a civil servant, Supoj Saplom, whilst he was attending his daughter’s wedding. They were rather surprised to find sacks of cash all over the place – an estimated total value of somewhere between 700 million and 1 billion baht (that’s £14.6 to £20.9 million). They weren’t equipped to steal such a large sum, so just grabbed what they could and fled the scene.
Supoj initially claimed that just one million Baht had been stolen, though later changed his story to say it was his daughter’s sinsot (bride price). It seems a little strange though that more than 17 million Baht has been recovered from those gang members who have so far been arrested.
It also is a little strange that the bands on the notes recovered apparently relate to money for certain state railway projects, and Supoj just happens to be Permanent Secretary for Transport.
On investigation, it turned out that his personal bank accounts had about 20 million Baht (£420,000) in them, but Supoj claims that this was money he received for working overtime. (It seems civil servants are surprisingly well remunerated.)
The panel charged with investigating Supoj’s surprising riches has now decided to abandon its investigation, being unable to determine the source of his wealth.
There are a number of possible explanations for what happened. The following spring to mind:
- There never was all that money, and he was set up by someone bearing a grudge
- He was “looking after” the money for someone more powerful the he
- He has the sort of friends who can influence the outcome of official investigations.
Whatever the truth, it all looks rather fishy.
And the fact that the investigation has been closed down after only three months suggests that the government isn’t all that interested in tackling corruption – so no surprise there.