The head of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation was arrested while receiving well wishes from other officials at his office in Bangkok today, December 27th, on charges of demanding bribes and malfeasance in office.
The accused national parks chief, director-general Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya, was caught off guard when a team of police officers stormed into his office at the department’s Sueb Nakhasathien Building in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district.
Rutchada was just receiving New Year wishes from other department heads and senior officials when the police marched in and took him away to hear the charges of requesting or accepting bribes or other illicit benefits for personal gain, misusing his authority, and malfeasance in office.
The arrest was motivated by a complaint from Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, who accused Rutchada of unfairly reassigning officials who refused to pay him 500,000 baht to positions far from their home provinces.
Upon searching the accused’s office, police found a stack of 5 million baht in cash and kept it as evidence.
Chaiwat also alleged that Rutchada had embezzled 18.5% of the budgets allocated to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, and 30% of the budgets received by forest fire prevention units.
The department chief remains in police custody.
Join the discussion in our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/438849630140035/or in the comments below.