NEW BLOG: Now that the four individual Thai regulators accused of corruption in the awarding of the country’s 3G spectrum have been cleared by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), they have threatened legal action against the Senate subcommittee that called for their indictment.
Last month the NACC dismissed the case after it found no grounds to allegations the four members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) had colluded with the country’s three operators (AIS, dtac and TrueMove) in the 2012 auction.
The Senate subcommittee, after deliberating for almost two years, had called for an investigation into the 3G bidding process. The spectrum was auctioned at just 2.8 per cent of the reserve price, prompting widespread criticism for being uncompetitive.
The Bangkok Post reported that one of the regulators, Settapong Malisuwan, said the subcommittee should take responsibility for its actions, “as the allegations had harmed the national telecoms regulator’s credibility and image”, and he praised the NACC for being just and fair. The commissioner also said the subcommittee’s claims damaged the three operators’ share prices and the investment climate in the country’s telecoms industry.
The country’s long-awaited 4G auction was scheduled for this year (1.8GHz in August and 900MHz in November), but the National Council for Peace and Order has pushed back the dates by at least a year.
The new military rulers previously stated that the delay is necessary to give the NBTC time to “amend its regulations to ensure the auction is transparent and fair” – but hasn’t the anti-corruption commission just determined that the previous bidding process wasn’t biased?
It will certainly be interesting to see how the regulations are now amended.
It’s worth noting that one member of the telecoms committee, Suthipol Thaweechaikarn, was one of seven appointed last week by the new government as a state audit commissioner (under the ‘independent’ Office of the Auditor General). He will be responsible for legal affairs and will have to resign from his post as NBTC commissioner within 15 days.
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