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Monday, July 7, 2008

Japanese contractor allegedly bribes Thai officials

A former executive of Nishimatsu Construction Co. has told Japanese
prosecutors that the Japanese general contractor paid more than 400
million yen or Bt125 million in 2003 to Thai government officials.
Kyodo News Agency reported Monday.

The alleged bribes were in return for ''favors'' connected to the
award of a tunnel project of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration in

Incumbent Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was Bangkok governor at that time.

The former executive of the major Japanese general contractor is
being probed by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office for
allegedly violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law for
importing in around 100 million yen from overseas without reporting it
to customs, the sources said.

In September 2003, a partnership Nishimatsu Construction and a
local general contractor was awarded a project ordered by the BMA to
build a tunnel to ease flooding.

The project was worth around 6 billion yen, according to the administration.

Local staff of Nishimatsu in Thailand allegedly prepared bribes
after consulting executives of Nishimatsu's Thai partner, the sources
said. The payments were apparently made to Thai government officials
and officials overseeing overseeing bids for the project just before
and after the project was awarded.

The Nishimatsu executive claims he was not directly involved in
bribing the officials but ''in return for favors to secure the tunnel
construction project, the company paid a total of more than 400 million
yen to Thai government officials,'' the sources said.

''Such operational funds were necessary in order to be awarded public works projects in Thailand,'' he was quoted as saying.

Kyodo news agency said the prosecutors searched Nishimatsu's
head office in Tokyo's Minato Ward in early June in connection with the
former executive's suspected violation of the foreign exchange law. The
prosecutors suspect that the 100 million yen he brought into Japan was
part of a slush fund.

The prosecutors are also conducting investigations into Pacific
Consultants International, a major Japanese construction consultancy,
in connection with a case of suspected bribery in Vietnam related to a
project funded by official development assistance from the Japanese

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