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General news >> Friday March 09, 2007

Cash for seats con men nabbed


Council for National Security (CNS) secretary-general Winai Phattiyakul found himself in the hot seat yesterday after his name was allegedly used by con artists to solicit 40 million baht from a publisher in return for a ministerial seat. The defence permanent secretary denied knowing the accused 51-year-old colonel attached to the Supreme Command Headquarters _ who also works for the CNS _ or his accomplice.

Col Nattaporn Chaithongkham and Attapan Maneechote-wichanat were arrested at Chankana restaurant, opposite the Army Club in Bangkok's Dusit district yesterday.

The arrests came after Panatthana Tamprateep, editor and owner of the Kha Pandin Siam newspaper, last Friday alerted crime suppression police to the men who he said claimed to be Gen Winai's close aides and trusted headhunters with a mission to find suitable people to join the cabinet.

Mr Panatthana said the men told him he was a promising contender and could secure a seat on the cabinet if he provided the financial backing of 40 million baht.

Undercover police made the arrest at the restaurant yesterday after the publisher handed over 1.5 million baht as a deposit to the accused.

Police said the men had also approached a female wing commander for the post of deputy public health minister.

Both suspects denied fraud charges. Col Nattaporn used his position to secure bail, while Mr Attapan posted 100,000 baht bail.

Air Marshal Danai Nantasiri, director of the military's Joint Personnel Directorate, said the case would be handled by police and Col Nattaporn would be subject to military disciplinary action.

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