By The Nation
The Cabinet approved the guidelines at its meeting yesterday right after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) put it forward. The guidelines, which require agencies to act quickly on corruption complaints, took immediate effect as several government schemes for the poor have lately been embroiled in graft scandals.
Investigations are ongoing into alleged irregularities in the disbursement of state funds for the destitute as well as the alleged embezzlement of Bt118 million from the Education Ministry’s fund for the underprivileged.
“Upon receiving or hearing corruption complaints, the chief of a relevant agency must launch a probe within seven days,” government spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. “The probe must also conclude within 30 days.”
He said that if the preliminary information showed evidence of corruption, an agency chief must transfer accused officials.
“The transfer can be made within the same agency or ministry, if the alleged offences are not serious,” he added.
However, the guidelines required that accused officials be transferred to another agency at least on a temporary basis if charges were serious.
According to the guidelines, the chief of a government agency must also take immediate disciplinary action against accused officials if an investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing.
“There is no need to wait until criminal proceedings conclude first,” Sansern said.
When alleged offences involve criminal wrongdoing, the Centre for National Anti-Corruption should be alerted.
Sansern said based on the guidelines, officials found guilty of grave disciplinary offences could not return to their old posts or be promoted for three years, since they had to be transferred because of the wrongdoing.
“This rule applies to officials whose offences do not warrant dismissals,” he said.
Among the 13 police members transferred yesterday, one was a police colonel and two were lieutenant colonels. This group of suspects also includes a commissioned policewoman.
In a related development, Social Development and Human Security Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat said he planned to punish five officials later this week for their role in the alleged embezzlement of state funds for the destitute.
“They are C7 and C8 officials,” he said, referring to bureaucratic rankings, which range from C1 to the highest of C11.
Anantaporn said he would act on the first conclusions of the investigation and would take further action when it was finished.
Asked whether the corruption scandal had already implicated the ministry’s permanent secretary and deputy permanent secretary, Anantaporn said: “Our probe has found that some officials gave the order.” He did not elaborate.
The national police Counter-Corruption Division also stated yesterday that 10 more temples had been found to have engaged in alleged embezzlement of state funds for monasteries.