By ERICH PARPART
Three more high-ranking (C-9) public servants under the Revenue Department have been axed because of a false-VAT-refund case worth more than Bt3.2 billion.
Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said yesterday that the ministry had decided to dismiss the three officials, who allegedly helped a group of 30 non-existing business operators, who claimed to be exporters of metals and ores, to claim refunds of value-added tax falsely.
A total of 18 officials have been under investigation in the corruption case. Four C-9 public servants have been dismissed so far, while some with lower ranks are under the investigation of the Revenue Department. The higher-ranking suspects are under the investigation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
The highest rank in the Thai bureaucracy is C-11.
Siripong Riyakarnteerachote from Bangkok Area Revenue Office 22 was the first officer to be dismissed because of the case.
Of the three new dismissals, one suffered a less harsh fate than the other two because he was found guilty only of “intent” to commit fraud. That official, Gusak Chantaraj of Samut Sakhon Area Revenue Office 2, was “let go” with his pension intact, Sommai said.
The other two, Pomphet Wittayaluck and Phayu Suksodkeaw, both from Samut Prakan Area Revenue Office 1, were fired outright.
“There are no more C-9 officials under the investigation of the Finance Ministry. Higher-ranking officials are under the investigation of the NACC, and if they are found to be involved they will suffer the same fate,” he said.
Officials found guilty of corruption could also face criminal charges for tax fraud laid by the Department of Special Investigation. As well, the private sector’s role in the scam is being dealt with.
The case surfaced in 2010 when 30 non-existent firms made orders from six non-existent suppliers before filing for the VAT refund, which was approved by corrupt officials. In total, around Bt3.209 billion was paid to the non-existent operators.