Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


US Co. Involved In Thai Security Bribery Case

US Company Involved In Thai Airport Security Bribery Case


by Richard S. Ehrlich

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission into "foreign corrupt practices" by an American company selling airport bomb-detectors, and the alleged involvement of Thai officials, have created an uproar in Thailand.

The U.S. bomb-detection deal for Bangkok's new international airport may have provided Thais with more than 10 million U.S. dollars in bribes, kickbacks or inflated contracts.

The case involves InVision Technologies, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Newark, California.

InVision wanted to sell 26 high-tech machines which identify explosives when luggage is put onto an airport's conveyor belt.


A CTX 9000 DSi machine

The CTX 9000 DSi machine uses technology derived from medical tomography, in which X-rays scan bags in a tunnel-shaped chamber.

It can also detect narcotics and currency, the company said.

In December, U.S.-based General Electric Co. paid 900 million U.S. dollars to acquire InVision.

But on Dec. 6, the U.S. Justice Department's Fraud Section announced InVision's deal in Thailand included "criminal liability associated with potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)" and fined InVision 800,000 U.S. dollars.

In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined InVision an additional 1.1 million U.S. dollars "for violations" of the FCPA.

"InVision was aware of a high probability that its foreign sales agents, or distributors, made or offered to make improper payments to foreign government officials in order to obtain or retain business for InVision," the S.E.C said.

After the merger, the company changed its name to GE InVision, Inc. but expects to complete the sale of the 26 explosives-detection machines to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, which is under construction to replace the Thai capital's smaller Don Muang International Airport.

A Thai distributor, Patriot Business Consultants Co. Ltd., appeared to be at the center of the initial deal between InVision and the new airport, but Thai officials said Patriot would no longer be involved due to the allegations.

Thai officials spent much of Thursday and Wednesday (April 28 and 27) trying to assure reporters that they were innocent of all allegations, after Thai media splashed details of the case.

"GE wants to cancel the [Patriot] contract and sell the machines directly to the [airport]. That would be a colossal loss for me," said Patriot's owner, Worapoj Yasadatt.

"But I guarantee that there is no bribery involved," Mr. Worapoj said.

"We are seeking information from both local and foreign agencies, so we can know where to begin," said Deputy Prime Minister Vishanu Kruangam, who promised to examine the case.

On Feb. 14, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued an Accounting and Auditing Enforcement document which identified Thais allegedly involved in the corruption as a "distributor," "government officials," and "governmental aviation authorities."

"The [Thai] distributor indicated that it had offered to make gifts or payments to officials with influence over the airport corporation" in Bangkok, the S.E.C. said.

"Construction of the airport is overseen by a corporation controlled by the government of Thailand," it said.

In the first quarter of 2004, the airport's corporation agreed to buy 26 InVision bomb-detection units for a total of 35.8 million U.S. dollars, it said.

"Under the terms of the transaction, the [Thai] distributor would purchase the explosives detection machines from InVision, and then make its profit by reselling them at a higher price for use by the airport," the S.E.C. said.

Patriot allegedly quoted the price at 46 million U.S. dollars -- 10.2 million U.S. dollars more than InVision's price -- according to Thai media.

"The investigations by the [U.S. Justice] Department and the S.E.C. [Securities and Exchange Commission] revealed that InVision, through the conduct of certain employees, was aware of a high probability that its agents or distributors in the Kingdom of Thailand, the People's Republic of China and the Philippines had paid, or offered to pay, money to foreign officials or political parties in connection with transactions, or proposed transactions, for the sale by InVision of its airport security screening machines," the U.S. Justice Department announced on Dec. 6.

*************

Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 26 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is www.geocities.com/glossograph/

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news