Head of Thailand's special investigation branch sacked for being 'unusually rich'

Ex-DSI chief Tarit.
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

Tarit Pengdit, former head of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), has been dismissed from state service for being unusually rich - and there is no way he can appeal against his punishment, senior government officials said yesterday.

The prime minister's secretary-general Vilas Arunsri said yesterday he issued an order to dismiss Tarit on April 3 at the suggestion of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which found former DSI chief had acted corruptly.

The NACC had informed the Prime Minister's Secretariat, as Tarit's direct supervising agency, that he was found to be "unusually wealthy", after amassing assets of Bt346.6 million (S$14 million) without proper explanation while serving as DSI director-general, Vilas said.

Vilas noted that Tarit had been moved through an order of the National Council for Peace and Order from the DSI to the Prime Minister's Office, which is part of the PM's Secretariat, on May 24, 2014.

Tarit was later appointed as an adviser attached to the PM's Office on June 27, 2014. So, Vilas said, it was his authority as the PM's secretary-general to decide whether to follow the NACC suggestion.

Photo: The Nation/Asia News Network

Cannot appeal, Wissanu says

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Tarit could not appeal against the move by the PM's Secretariat as the disciplinary punishment was carried out in compliance with an NACC order, which is regarded as final.

If a dismissal comes from disciplinary action, the sacked official may appeal |to the Civil Service Commission's |Merit System Protection Board, he explained.

Tarit told The Nation yesterday that he would fight his dismissal in line with the justice process, but said he did not want to discuss the matter further.

"I have learnt about the news, but I don't want to give an interview now. What I can say is that I will fight this through the justice system," he said.

Vilas explained in a statement yesterday that Tarit's dismissal came after the PM's Secretariat discussed the case with the NACC, the Civil Service Commission and the Council of State.

He said the three agencies affirmed that his office had authority to dismiss Tarit from government service.

The statement said Tarit had been found to have amassed unusual wealth while serving as head of the DSI, so the PM's Secretariat was required by Article 80 (4) of the 1999 Corruption Prevention and Suppression Act to dismiss him from state service.

Meanwhile, the NACC also found that Tarit had transferred Bt100 million of his assets to close associates.

That information was disclosed |by NACC commissioner Preecha Lertkamolmart on Sunday following an investigation into the former DSI chief's wealth.

Last month, the anti-graft agency voted unanimously to endorse the finding that Tarit had unlawfully amassed assets worth Bt346.6 million. It then froze Bt90 million of his assets.

Preecha said the agency would conduct a further investigation into the matter. If the former DSI chief could provide documents supporting the legitimacy of his assets, they would be returned to him, he said.