Thai businessman convicted of selling fake bomb detectors – Times of India


Thai soldier makes use of a GT200 detector

BANGKOK: A court docket in Thailand has convicted an area businessman of fraud for promoting faux bomb detectors to the Thai authorities, 5 years after a court docket in the UK sentenced the British head of the corporate that equipped them to seven years in jail in a scandal that was worldwide in scale. Thailand’s navy drew criticism and mock in 2010 when the GT 200 bomb detectors – which had been claimed to even be able to detecting medicine and different substances – had been uncovered as nugatory pseudo-scientific devices.
Many tens of millions of {dollars} of the units had been bought to the Thai military and different safety forces around the globe. Even after they had been confirmed to be ineffective, they continued for a time for use in a number of international locations, together with sizzling spots equivalent to Iraq and southern Thailand, the place there’s an energetic Muslim insurgency.
The excessive value of the units – and the truth that costs assorted significantly – additionally raised suspicion that corruption was concerned of their buy.
The Thai authorities’s Science and Expertise Ministry present in 2010 that the detectors had a profitable detection fee of solely 20 per cent.
Nonetheless, then-army commander Gen Anupong Paochinda – the inside minister within the present navy authorities – denied any corruption and lauded the gadget’s varied “successes”.
Thailand had purchased greater than 700 of the detectors beginning in 2004 at a complete value of about USD 21 million.
The present protection minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, defended the navy’s dealing with of the affair Thursday, telling reporters the units had been examined and located working on the time of buy, so there had been no wrongdoing by the navy.
Thai Protection Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich mentioned Thursday that Thai authorities had stopped utilizing the GT200 units “ever since international governments proved that they’re ineffective” and that varied navy departments are progressively submitting lawsuits in opposition to corporations that bought the faux bomb detectors to them.
Sutthiwat Wathanakij, supervisor of AVIA Satcom Co Ltd, on Wednesday was convicted of fraud for 3 GT200 gross sales contracts and sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment.
He had already obtained a 10-year jail sentence final week for promoting the bomb detectors to the Thai military underneath 12 different gross sales contracts value 600 million baht (USD 18.5 million).
The GT200 was considered one of a number of related fraudulent units bought by a loosely linked group of shady, principally British operators. After Britain banned the export of one of many related units in 2010, the scheme began to unravel as impartial checks proved the units had been completely ineffective and had no scientific foundation.
The UK banned the export of the GT200 units in 2010 when it accused maker World Technical Ltd of fraud. British authorities that yr raided the workplaces of World Technical and two different makers of comparable fraudulent bomb detectors.
British businessman Gary Bolton, who led World Technical, was sentenced to seven years in jail by a UK court docket in August 2013 and ordered to pay over USD 1.6 million.
Some officers nonetheless defend the GT200.
Surasak Kirivichien, a member of the anti-corruption fee investigating officers concerned with the procurement of the GT200, lately mentioned it’s troublesome to evaluate the worth of the gadget, evaluating it to the amulets many Buddhist Thais put on as fortunate charms.
“This gear was bought for troopers for use as defensive weapons in a high-risk setting,” he mentioned in an interview final month with Thailand’s PPTV.
“Folks working in such areas are risking their lives. The gear, despite the fact that it will not be environment friendly, has a excessive morale worth. It is higher than having nothing in any respect, that is what individuals on the operational degree really feel.”
Wora-at Soontorn-apichart, lawyer for the convicted Sutthiwat, mentioned he would enchantment the court docket’s ruling, making the argument that his shopper couldn’t be blamed as a result of the GT200 units had been turned over to the military as quickly as they arrived in Thailand by air, so couldn’t be examined by Sutthiwat’s firm, which was simply promoting a tool that met the contract’s specs.
The court docket acquitted two co-defendants who had been AVIA Satcom firm workers. Sutthiwat was launched on 900,000 baht (USD 27,745) bail.

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