Activists petition ombudsman for probe on Kittiratt's ethics violation

BANGKOK, Feb 23 - Thai activists of the Green Political Group on Thursday petitioned the Office of the Ombudsman to probe alleged ethics violation of Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong over a controversial private meeting with a group of businesspersons.

Green Political Group representative Jaturan Boonbenjarat submitted the complaint with ombudsman Sriracha Charoenpanich to probe the ethics of Mr Kattiratt after the latter told the media that he attended the meeting at Four Seasons Hotel with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and some businesspersons on Feb 8.

The meeting between the premier, her deputy and the 6-7 businesspersons at the Bangkok five star hotel sparked criticism amongst the public over possible conflicts of interest and its appropriateness as it was held while the House was in session.

Mr Srettha Thavisin, the president of property developer Sansiri Plc, admitted that the discussion was on land appraisal, as well as the country's financial and political situation.

Following Mr Srettha's interview, the activist said there might be a conflict of interest if the talk really focused on these issues and that the finance minister has already violated ethics, as his duty is to lay out the country's economic and public policy.

"If the meeting was for the benefit of the country, it should be held publicly with a clear agenda and disclosure of the meeting's conclusion to the public," stated Mr Jaturat.

The plaintiff also noted that Mr Kittaratt's behaviour was inappropriate, likely to benefit some businesspersons and lead to the conflict of interest.

"There are still many knowledgeable businesspersons. Why does it have to be only them? Or is it because they have close ties?" the activist questioned.

Mr Jaturan urged the ombudsman to investigate the case and seek impeachment against the deputy premier if he is found to have violated ethics.

Mr Sriracha said he received the petition and that the office will consider the case, while Mr Kittiratt will be asked to clarify the matter if the accusation has sufficient grounds.

The Office of Ombudsman will also send a letter to the prime minister seeking her clarification on the private meeting in the next few days, according to the ombudsman. (MCOT online news)

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