Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry seeks in-depth probe in fraud case
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry wants the fraud case involving the ministry’s savings cooperative to be made a special one so an in-depth investigation can be carried out, Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya Thaiset said on Wednesday after chairing a meeting.
According to information, some 85 victims have been defrauded of 491 million baht.
An arrest warrant has been issued for two culprits for forging signatures and documents to withdraw the money. They had been doing this since 2005 by choosing inactive accounts.
The victims did not know money was stolen from their accounts as they couldn’t check their cash balance regularly for lack of a real-time online application. They came to know only when they updated their account books.
Meanwhile, the cooperative was said to randomly send account summaries to only some members at the end of each year.
Mananya ordered the Cooperative Promotion Department (CPD) and Cooperative Auditing Department (CAD) to report on the two suspected culprits and cooperate with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to make this a special case so an in-depth probe can be carried out.
She asked cooperatives across the country to use a savings application made by the CPD and CAD so members can check their savings status in real time. If any cooperative buys time to do so, they will be under suspicion of committing fraud, she warned.
She asked members to force their cooperatives to use such an application.
Mananya said she would also write to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to make the case a special one.
The deputy minister asked the culprits to surrender and return the money forthwith to reduce the penalty after there were reports that they escaped to Vietnam and Laos. But she believed it would take a short time for members to get their money back.
Mananya asked the CPD and CAD to set up a working group to solve the problem and report within April.
If any officers are involved in the case, they should be suspended or removed immediately, she said. They should also be contacted by the DSI and Amlo under an investigation so their ill-gotten assets can be seized.
The deputy minister also ordered the CAD to check the financial situation of the cooperative to see if it could operate normally or not and to check the private auditors and blacklist them if they were involved.
Ministry permanent-secretary Thongplew Kongjun said he ordered the closing of the cooperative’s office to prevent anyone from destroying documents.
CAD deputy director-general Prakob Phongpao said there was likely to be more victims. He asked all cooperative members to check their savings and report by Friday.
Cooperative vice chairman Anchana Tracho said it has capital stock of 1.574 billion baht, savings of 1.6 billion, a reserve fund of 151 million, and an investment fund of 650 million baht.