Tokyo contractor allegedly bribed Thai officials

Kyodo News

A former executive of Nishimatsu Construction Co. has told Tokyo prosecutors the general contractor gave more than ¥400 million to Thai officials in return for “favors” connected to awarding a tunnel project in 2003, according to sources.

The former executive of the major contractor is being investigated by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office on suspicion of violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law for bringing in around ¥100 million from overseas without reporting it to customs, the sources said.

According to the sources, a partnership between Tokyo-based Nishimatsu Construction and a local general contractor was awarded a project in September 2003 by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to build a tunnel to ease flooding. The project was worth around ¥6 billion, according to the administration.

Local staff of Nishimatsu in Thailand prepared bribes after consulting executives of Nishimatsu’s Thai partner, the sources said. The payments were apparently made to government officials and officials in charge of 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 to Thai government officials,” according to the sources.

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

The prosecutors searched Nishimatsu’s head office in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in early June in connection with the former executive’s suspected violation of the foreign exchange law. The prosecutors suspect the ¥100 million 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 government.