Scholarships to Thai Military Officers for Gripen Deal is Bribe: Swedish NGO

  • Our Bureau
  • 12:31 PM, October 17, 2015
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Scholarships to Thai Military Officers for Gripen Deal is Bribe: Swedish NGO
Thai Gripen JAS39 Fighter Jet

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society have lodged a complaint seeking an inquiry of alleged corruption in the sale of Gripen fighter jets to Thailand.

According to the SPAS, the agreement between FMV and Thailand for the purchase of Gripen JAS 39 fighters offered scholarships to Thai military officers. The NGO alleges that the stipends paid are as good as paying a bribe.

The Swedish Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), SPAS filed the complaint earlier this week to look into the practices of the Swedish Defense Material Administration (FMV) after an article was published in Black Spot Project on September 30.

Thailand signed the first contract with Saab to procure six Gripen fighter jets in 2008. It signed a second contract to procure additional six fighter jets in 2010. The deal included training scholarships for 37 Thai officers.

"The reason why we filed a police report is that they investigate the issue and then hand over the case to corresponding legal authorities when done,'' SPAS president Anna Ek was quoted as saying in an email to the Bangkok Post.

“A copy of the police complaint also was sent to the Swedish Prosecution Authority,” Ek said.

The article, which spurred the NGO to act, alleged that the Swedish firm did not disclose the scholarship deals to the public. Ek said it was revealed by whistleblowers.

"It is clear to us that this case must be investigated by the legal authorities. Should the investigation find evidence of corruption, the responsible persons have to face the corresponding legal charges,'' said Ms Ek.

The total price tag for the 12 multi-role Gripen fighters was 34.4 billion baht. The budget was approved by the government in 2007. The procurement deal also covered training programmes for Thai pilots and spare-parts packages.

The Gripens replaced long-used F5 jets and now are one of the main combat aircraft used by the air force, in addition to F16 fighters.

The first batch of six fighters was delivered to Thailand in 2011 and the second arrived in 2013. All were deployed at Wing 7 in Surat Thani province.

The project came under fire in 2007 shortly after the budget was approved with critics alleging the price had been inflated. The air force denied the charges, saying the deal was fairly priced after thorough study.

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