Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nibhat's SET post raises questions


Nibhat Bhukkanasut has been named to the board of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, raising questions among market participants about whether the former technocrat meets qualification standards.

The appointment was made yesterday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which also nominated Niputh Jitprasonk to the SET board. Vallobh Vimolvanich was also reappointed for a second term.

All three will serve on the board from Monday until Aug 10, 2010. The 11- person SET board is currently chaired by Pakorn Malakul Na Ayudhya, with other directors primarily representing the local brokerage and asset management industries.

SEC officials refused to discuss yesterday whether Mr Nibhat was qualified to sit on the SET board, saying only that the appointment did not violate the law.

But brokers and analysts expressed unease over the appointment, noting that for listed companies and brokers, the SEC demands stiff ethical qualifications on those serving as senior management or directors.

Mr Nibhat, a former Treasury Department director-general and deputy permanent secretary for the Finance Ministry, was dismissed from the civil service in July 2000 over alleged corruption charges regarding a massive commercial development at the site of the former Mor Chit bus station.

Anti-corruption officials accused Mr Nibhat of accepting bribes of 30 million baht from the winning contractor. But prosecutors in 2001 declined to press charges, citing lack of evidence.

Mr Nibhat was reinstated to the civil service during the Thaksin Shinawatra government, holding positions of finance adviser and adviser to former energy minister Prommin Lertsuridej.

In October 2006, the National Counter-Corruption Commission reopened the case, alleging that Mr Nibhat's wealth of 49 million baht was unusual.

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