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Seven high-ranking officials liable in ‘children’s fund graft’ scandal, says ministry

Seven high-ranking officials liable in ‘children’s fund graft’ scandal, says ministry
TUESDAY, May 08, 2018

AT LEAST seven high-ranking officials should be held responsible for damages from corruption involving a fund for underprivileged children, a probe by the Education Ministry has concluded.

“These seven are still in service. Their ranks range from C8 to C11,” the ministry’s inspector Atthapon Treuktrong said, as chairman of the fact-finding committee. 
C11 is the highest rank in Thailand’s bureaucrat system. 
The committee was established to look into alleged irregularities in the Educational Fund for Life Development, following reports that nearly Bt100 million had been illegally channelled to undeserving recipients. Initially, the damages were estimated at Bt88 million but an investigation suggests the amount could be higher. 
This week, the committee revealed that a total of 25 current and retired officials were found to have committed wrongdoing related to the scandal. “Most of them engaged in negligence but some are directly involved in corruption,” Atthapon said on Monday. 

He said the next step was to take further actions, including civil proceedings for compensation, against each accused official and retiree. 
In the wake of the scandal, only one official – Rojana Sintee – has admitted wrongdoing. She has already been fired. 
The alleged embezzlement of funds has reportedly dragged on for more than a decade. Although complaints had been sent to the Education Ministry several times, Rojana had apparently intercepted and responded to each complaint with false explanations, concealing the scandal until this year. 
Atthapon said his committee would dig deeper and submit more reports to relevant authorities. 
“To date, the Anti-Money Laundering Office’s probe into financial flows has covered transactions between 2011 and 2018 only. We will have to go back further,” Atthapon said. 
Meanwhile, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) probe into alleged corruption involving state funds for the destitute under the care of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, has found grounds to take action against at least 217 officials. 
The number of implicated officials continues to rise as the PACC probe has expanded to cover the disbursement of funds across the country. 
Late last month, the number stood at 189.
“We will forward the list of the implicated officials to their agencies so that disciplinary actions can be taken. These accused officials should also be transferred,” PACC acting secretary general Pol Lt Colonel Korntip Daroj said. 
He also gave an update about the investigation into the Bt200,000 procurement of blankets for elderly people in Sing Buri province. “At this point, we have found that blankets were bought at Bt400 apiece, higher than the market price,” he said. 
Korntip said the probe would check whether the blankets were needed in Sing Buri.