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Welfare graft mastermind to be named today as senior bureaucrats under fire

Apr 02. 2018
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By THE NATION

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THE IDENTITY of the senior person or persons behind alleged irregularities at dozens of scandal-tainted provincial protection centres for the destitute would be revealed today, Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) secretary-general Korntip Daroj said yesterday.

The person or persons, of higher rank than centre-director level, were identified during the PACC’s fact-finding inquiry, conducted with the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Office of the Auditor-General in the past month, through a clear trail of embezzled-money transactions, he said. 

“As the evidence now links to officials of higher rank than the centre-director level, the legal actions to prosecute them per the criminal code will be forwarded to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission [NACC],” Kornthip said. He added that the accused senior officials’ supervisors would also be asked to launch disciplinary investigations. 

The PACC focuses on corruption cases involving low-ranking officials, while the NACC handles corruption cases involving politicians and high-ranking officials. 

The PACC will today announce the results of its investigation into 37 provincial protection centres for the destitute, with each case involving alleged misappropriation of more than Bt1 million, Kornthip said.

He added that the PACC investigation into all provincial protection centres for the destitute, self-help settlement centres, hill-tribe development centres and co-op coordinating centres under the Social Development and Human Security Ministry would be concluded by May 31.

Kornthip made the comments when asked about Social Development and Human Security Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat’s recent order to set up a disciplinary inquiry committee against Social Development and Human Security permanent secretary Puttipat Lertchaowasit and his deputy, Narong Kongkham. The two officials were transferred amid allegations of irregularities in February to perform duties at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry’s fact-finding committee’s investigation into alleged corruption at the Sema Pattana Chevit Fund for underprivileged children in the years 2003-2018 has also released some findings.

Panel head and education inspector-general Atthapol Truektrong said the committee found embezzled money had been wired to the bank accounts of a temple, a police major-general and a high school that was unrelated to the scheme.

 The year 2003 was a key turning point when the fund shifted from disbursements via bank drafts to direct money wires to schools’ bank accounts, Atthapol said.

In that year, Rojana Sinthee – a C8-level education official who has been accused of, and reportedly confessed to, stealing more than Bt88 million from the fund – started to abuse her authority in overseeing the fund and channelled money into her own and accomplices’ bank accounts, Atthapol said.

The committee would investigate the links between Rojana and the recipients of the ill-gotten funds, he said.

 As Rojana channelled funds through the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Education’s Finance Department, the panel would also investigate if any of its officials were involved.

Atthapol is scheduled to visit the South this afternoon to investigate more graft complaints linked to the fund, at five schools in Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Chumphon and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Another team will travel up North to investigate graft allegations in Lampang.

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